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Dave's Take: The YETI LoadOut GoBox 30

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Dave’s Take: Yeti LoadOut GoBox 30

YETI Hopper GoBox - 2.jpg

Having your gear accessible and protected is non-negotiable for almost any pursuit – and yet typical gear cases aren’t built to stand up to the demands of the outdoors, and lack organizational capabilities. Built to be nearly indestructible, the LoadOut GoBox™ can endure seasons in the sun, negative temps in the field, and the daily abuse of being lugged in and out of the truck, the boat, and the blind.

Organization’s Final Boss

Is a final boss battle even a thing in video games anymore? It seems like most current games are geared toward continuous farming, and/or in-game purchases. I totally get this from a want-to-get-paid point of view, but I pity the modern gamer, myself included, who will never get the satisfaction of watching that impossible final boss finally die. From hitting Bowser with a terminating fireball, to finally punching-out Mike Tyson, nothing satisfies like finally finishing off the last big bad guy.

I’ve always held the belief that video games are great problem-solving training tools. Again, not necessarily the games where you just log in and collect resources, but the games where you are presented with real puzzles that one can only figure out with experience and the right tools. Under that lens, golf represents a very similar challenge, with success coming from experiences and tools as well. Sadly, the hours spent playing Tiger Woods Golf did not help me swing like him…

If you are anything like me, you probably have a ton of golf gear in your garage. Lots of balls, tees, gloves, towels (oh the acres of towels), training aides, ball markers, souvenirs, and other random golf items that seemed must-haves at the time of their purchase.

In total, I think that maybe 1% of all of my golf garage stuff ever sees the course. If we are talking garage putters, that percentage may be a little high. Hi, my name is Dave and I have a putter problem.Regardless, we have all experienced the frustration when the one thing that we needed was left behind in the garage, forcing us to play without warm hands, open bottles, dry socks, or shoes with spikes. We have lots of gear, but still occasionally lack the gear that we need.

Today, I present you with something that could fix that issue: The Yeti LoadOut GoBox 30. It may not have been designed with golfers in mind, but I think that golfers will definitely find it useful.

Finding Closure in a Container

YETI Hopper GoBox - 3.jpg

I’ve put numerous Yeti products through the paces over the years, but I think that the LoadOut GoBox 30 may be the first one that is not a cooler, or any kind of drinking thing at all. It’s a bit strange to have deviated from my for the 19thHolefocus, but when I saw this thing on the Yeti site, I knew that it was something that could be perfect for golfers looking to organize their gear.

Sure, perhaps golfers don’t hit the rugged outdoors demographic that the GoBox is marketed for, but we have lots of gear too, and it can get just as disorganized as anyone else’s gear, and that can make our golfing experience less awesome. The usage connection is not that tenuous.

At its essence, the Yeti LoadOut GoBox is a box to store your gear in, but I actually think that it is the box to store your gear in. The final boss of boxes. You’ve made it past Goro, it’s time for Shang Tsung.

Let’s take a look at the specs on the LoadOut GoBox 30 and see what makes it the ultimate organizational ally.

  • DEFENDER MATERIAL: We can’t legally say it’s unbreakable – but this cargo box can withstand serious impact, even in the most extreme conditions.
  • WILDPROOF™ DESIGN: Waterproof and dustproof to keep gear inside protected from unwanted wilderness.
  • 100% WATERPROOF: Gasket, latches, and vent work together to ensure the gear inside stays dry.
  • STACKABLE: Nesting design and non-slip feet keep your setup high and tight.
  • WEIGHT: 11.8 pounds
  • OUTSIDE DIMENSIONS: 20 1/2” × 11 1/8” × 14 5/8”
  • COLORS: White, Desert Tan, & Charcoal
  • MSRP: $249

Basically, it’s the GOAT of TOTES!

Now I know that some of you are perhaps shocked that the MSRP on the GoBox is $249.99. Honestly, did you miss the Yeti brand name? Does Yeti make anything cheap? The answer to that second question is no, but not just in terms of price, but also quality. Time and time again, I have put Yeti products through the paces, and they have yet to fail to outpace my performance expectations. If you are thinking “I can just put my stuff in a $20 tote from Target.”, then you may be missing out on just what the LoadOut GoBox 30 brings to the transport table. It’s not just a place to store your gear, but a way to store your gear effectively.

Sometimes You Need to Compartmentalize

As I said, the Yeti GoBox is all about effective organization and transport. It’s more than just a box that locks (although it locks really well). Inside you will find clever devices that help to keep your gear in ideal isolation. Let’s look inside.

Removable Caddy

YETI Hopper GoBox - 5.jpg

The first thing that you are likely to notice when you look inside the GoBox is the removable caddy. This little tray sits securely on either side, and is subdivided into three different sections. The caddy is deep enough to keep you smaller items from flying out, but shallow enough overall so as to not take away too much from the storage area beneath. It will fit on either side of the main compartment, and it features a retracting handle, making it easy to pick up, but compact when you put it back inside the box.

It seems silly to get excited about a caddy handle, but I think that it speaks to the way that Yeti pays attention to design. They could have made a caddy that was all one piece, and it probably would have been cheaper, but in doing so, they would have lost the user-friendliness of the current design, and impacted the storage characteristics of the caddy. Yes, Yeti pays attention to the little things.

Center Divider

YETI Hopper GoBox - 6.jpg

Not that it’s a huge feature, but the GoBox includes a removable divider for the large bottom storage section. Having this divider gives you the option to remove it to store large things, or slide it in to keep smaller objects separate. As a bonus, it also looks like the divider would make a great cutting board.

Pack Attic Lid

YETI Hopper GoBox - 7.jpg

When you look under the top of the GoBox lid, you will find the Pack Attic. The Pack Attic is a fabric (nylon?) storage unit that secures to the lid via Velcro. There is a large zippered compartment, and two smaller zippered sections built from perforated fabric. It’s almost like there is a simple briefcase attached to the lid. The large section has a fairly significant volume, and the zippers should keep the contents from migrating during travel.

Making the GoBox a GolfBox

YETI Hopper GoBox - 13.jpg

As I mentioned above, golfers have a bunch of gear. Sure, most of it gets crammed into our bags, but we still need extra storage in our garage, or perhaps something like the GoBox to organize our surplus stocks, or perhaps store those items that are not needed each round. Wouldn’t it be nice to get some of that “sometimes” gear out of your bag?

With the GoBox, I saw the opportunity to get all the needed gear in one well-organized container that could easily be loaded into the trunk along with my clubs and cart.

The initial question was, of course, would it all fit in the trunk?

YETI Hopper GoBox - 1.jpg

That answer was an easy yes. As you can see from the photos, the Yeti LoadOut GoBox had no issues fitting in my trunk with my Clicgear cart and Nike Hybrid bag. For reference, the car used for testing was an Acura TLX sedan, maybe my favorite car ever.

With the GoBox system, I just throw the three things into the trunk and head to the course. I’m not searching for the specific small things that I might need, because I know that they are all in the box.

What’s in the Box, Dave?

YETI Hopper GoBox - 11.jpg

The short answer to that question is “lots of stuff”. I tried to think of what I could need occasionally that I wouldn’t want to store in my bag all of the time. Most of what is in there is “extra”. You’ll see extra balls, socks, clothing layers, phone charger, and so on. Again, what could I need that I may run out of, or don’t want to lug around in the bag all of the time. I definitely see the contents changing with the seasons, but the main theme of backing up the golf bag should persist.

YETI Hopper GoBox - 15.jpg

The only storage issue that I can see some of you having is with the shoes. For reference, my shoes are size 11, and they pretty much fill the section on the bottom. If you wear something larger, you’ll likely not be able to put the caddy above them, or may need to remove the divider to make them sit flat.

What Goes in Your GoBox?

YETI Hopper GoBox - 14.jpg

Although its price is potentially prohibitive, I think that the Yeti LoadOut GoBox 30is a great product for golfers. You can keep all of your stuff organized, and have an easy system for bringing your needed gear to the golf course. You need not search for your stuff, because you know it’s in the GoBox. Just take the box and Go! 

So, what do you think? Can you see a GoBox making your life easier? What would you put in your GoBox?

 

 

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looks really nice...just my 2c, but this seems like overkill (price wise) to organize your golf stuff in your trunk...but to each their own.

Love the BETTI pullover though 🙂   what model do you play

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looks really nice...just my 2c, but this seems like overkill (price wise) to organize your golf stuff in your trunk...but to each their own.
Love the BETTI pullover though    what model do you play

It is the endgame of totes. I can’t imagine one more completely engineered.
As for the Betti, last Sunday I went BB0 but latest gamer has been QueenB 10. Custom Queen B six on the way as well.


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I always enjoy reading and looking at GS Dave's postings. Especially his photographic work. I'm not a buyer of this type product but that doesn't take away from the write-up/description at all. Certainly I could have one but I'm just too practical to let it happen. I currently carry a cardboard box in the back of my suv about the same size as the Yetti. In it I have a couple sleeves of balls, a pair of shoes and a crumpled rain/wind jacket. Maybe even an old snack bar and a dried out cigar.. and some loose change. It's not very impressive but it works! For me anyway.

Again... nice post and review Dave.

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PING cold weather mittens?  
image.png.e5b0bb3d4018b00eb4a303fb7045435c.png

Yep. I always go mittens. I have this Ping pair and another larger footjoy pair. Open air in the mitten warms better than gloves.


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I always enjoy your reviews GS Dave! This is great and would work well in the back of my truck. I hate things flopping around back there. I've tried a few things but this looks really great. Oh and I too prefer the big mittens - they keep my hands warmer and they are so much easier to get off and on in between shots. 

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      I don't think that it's a stretch to say that the Xikar XO double guillotine cutter is the coolest cigar cutter on the market. It is just so interesting to look at, and fun to use. Right now, I'm not currently smoking a cigar at all, yet I keep taking breaks from typing to click the XO open and closed.
       
      As for the Xi1 vs XO battle, the XO is in the travel humidor. The XO definitely adds to my cigar while golfing enjoyment, and it always draws interested attention when I pop it open, allowing me to share it's coolness with others.
       
      I think that there may also be some golf crosstraining potential in the XO. It's definitely an awesome ball marker, and I think that there may be a way to use it to draw a line on my ball. Regardless, I'm totally geared up to use the XO to cut my next stick.
    • By GolfSpy Dave
      Dave's Take: Jaybird Tarah Bluetooth Headphones
       
      The Jaybird Tarah headphones may have entry-level pricing, but they deliver great sound, especially when paired with the Jaybird app.
      Jaybird is the Word
      The Jaybird Tarah is the third pair of Jaybird Bluetooth headphones that I have taken through the review process, having previously reviewed the Jaybird X3 and Jaybird Run models. In both of the previous reviews, I was definitely impressed with the Jaybird products, especially since I had never even heard of the brand prior to the first review.
      Well it’s been about a year since I published the Jaybird RUN review, and I am happy to say that those headphones, and the X3 headphones, continue to perform flawlessly. The Run headphones are a staple of my golf bag, and my son uses the X3s at the gym on a daily basis. Nothing better than your kid pilfering your cool stuff, huh?

      Unfortunately for the Tarah headphones that I am writing about today, the previous experiences have elevated my expectations for this new model. It’s sort of like being the third kid to go to a high school when both of your elder siblings were valedictorians. 
      Although I understand that the Tarah's role is as Jaybird’s entry-level model, it still has some big shoes to fill.
      Jaybird Tarah: IN THE BOX
      TARAH Wireless Buds Silicone Ear Gels: S/M/L Cord Management Clips Cord Shirt Clip USB 2.0 Charging Cable + Charge Clip Color: Nimbus-Gray/Jade Price: $99.99 Comfort and Fit

      Since they are of similar construction, most of my comparisons ended up being between the Tarah and the X3 headphones. The Run headphones are kind of their own thing, and not really an appropriate direct comparison.
      Anyway, like the X3 model, the Tarah headphones fit into your ears using a combination of silicone fins and ear inserts. The difference here is that while the X3s had separate fins and ear buds, the Tarah headphones come with the buds and fins fused into single units.
      Obviously this is going to cut into the versatility of fitting a bit. No longer can you pair small buds with large fins, or something like that. You really now only have three fit options. Hopefully one will work. For me, medium ear gels worked just fine.
      One thing that I really like about the new single-piece system is that the buds and fins are always in proper alignment with each other. Occasionally, the fins can twist out of place on the X3, and the Run, headphones. On the Tarah, this can’t happen since they are single piece units.

      Like the other Jaybird headphones, the Tarah headphones had no trouble staying in place through practice sessions on the range, or during workouts at the gym. Once I had the proper ear sock size, I just adjusted the cord a bit to secure them. After that, it was all about the music.
      Ease of Use

      Pairing is immediate. Not only for the first time that I paired them with my phone, but also when I paired them to my iPad later for movie watching. Just press and hold the power button and they are discoverable. So easy.
      The controls are very intuitive. Press +/- for volume control; hold them to skip songs. Nothing crazy here, which I like. They work like they should.
      Like the other Jaybird headphones, the Tarah headphones have a microphone and can be used to make calls. That’s not really a primary use for me, but they did perform just fine during some test calls.
      Sound Quality

      One of the things that I like about the Tarah and other in-ear headphones is that they block out a great deal of ambient noise when you insert them in your ear. They are not noise canceling, but they definitely block the noise.
      The nice thing about this is that when outside noise is reduced, you can now hear your music at lower volume, saving your battery and maybe your ears as well. The Tarah headphones can still get plenty loud, but it’s not necessary.

      The sound out of the box was good, but had a bit of that small speaker feeling. Bass was pretty absent, and overall I was not that impressed. However, after pairing the headphones with the free MySound app, and tweaking the EQ sound profile to add more bass, my mind changed completely.
      Once you adjust the setting on the app, the sound from the Tarah really blossoms. It was a huge difference. If you buy a pair of these, or any Jaybird headphones, the MySound app is a must use. You’ll be very pleased with the sound changing option and likely find an EQ mix that suits your style.
      Battery

      The Jaybird Tarah only features a six-hour battery as opposed to the eight-hour battery found in the X3. This is likely going to cover any single-setting headphone need that I have, though it will probably require more frequent recharging than other models.
      The cool thing is that the battery charges quickly. You can get an hour of play with only 10 minutes of charge.

      Like the Jaybird X3, charging the Tarah requires a special USB cord. If you are not prone to losing stuff, this is not likely a big deal. If you are one that spends hours searching for missing cables, then maybe you should order an extra cable.
      Jaybird Tarah Headphones Review: Summary

      The Jaybird Tarah headphones are solid entry-level Bluetooth headphones. For $99, you get a lightweight, easy to use, and great sounding headphones. If you need more fit versatility, then you can go to the X4 model. If you want a longer battery life, you can go to the newly released Tarah Pro with a 14 hour battery!
      I think that the Jaybird Run headphones will still be my go to headphones for the driving range, because of the charging case, but for most other applications, I’m going Tarah.
      Find out more at the Jaybird website, and at Amazon.
       
      Detailed Specifications: Jaybird Tarah
      AUDIO
      Type: In-ear style Noise-isolation: Passive Impedance: 16 Ohm Speaker sensitivity: 99 +/- 3dB at 1KHz Output max. 10mW RMS (with level limit) Total harmonic distortion <5% (1KHz, 1mW) Audio format: 16-bit stereo Codec: Bluetooth SBC implementation Response bandwidth: 20Hz - 20kHz Driver size: 6 mm BLUETOOTH
      Bluetooth version: 5.0 Frequency band: 2.4 GHz Profiles: Handsfree , Headset , A2DP , AVCRP , SPP Wireless range: Class 2 standard range 10m/33ft INTEGRATED MICROPHONE
      Type: MEMS, omni directional Sensitivity: -38dB +/- 1dB (Test conditions: 1KHz, 0db = 1V/Pa) COMPATIBLE PRODUCTS Any Bluetooth device with HFP, HSP and A2DP WEIGHT & DIMENSIONS
      Headset: 528mm x 13.25mm x 23.6mm Controller: 45.7mm x 11.7mm x 5.6mm Charger: 112mm x 33.6mm x 7.2mm Weight of headphones (without ear gel): 13.85g Weight of charger: 6.5g BATTERY
      Play time: 6 Hrs* Charging time: 2+ Hrs Quick charge: 10 min = 1+ hour playtime Charging: Via USB charging cable with Pogo pin connector Input power: DC 5V 1A Type: Lithium Ion Battery voltage: 3.8V Energy voltage in watt hrs per battery: 0.2wh *May vary dependent on usage, device & aging  



    • By GolfSpy Dave
      With the Warming Comes The Coolers!
      Truth be told, it wasn't that cold in NorCal in the winter. I've played some cold rounds of golf, but I'd definitely qualify them as California cold. That's the cold where I'm wearing three layers of pants, and those that live where that snow stuff falls would likely view the weather as tropical, and be playing in shorts. I'll concede the point that some of you are more winter resistant than I am.

      But the winter is finally going away. Even if it's still snowing like a beast on your driveway, the fact that it's The Masters week means that spring is here! There may not be much evidence of spring in Minnesota right now, but the azaleas and green jackets of Augusta sing the song of spring's arrival.

      That means that summer is coming soon too. Oh, how I long for the searing embrace of July...

      While my body may appreciate the eminent increases in temperature, my play beverages typically do not. Right now, I welcome all warmth on the course, but is a couple of months, warm beer will not be the accepted recipe for quenching thirsts.

      As such, I thought that there would be no better way to kick off the 2018 19th Hole season than to review the latest cooler from YETI. Last year, I decided that the YETI Hopper Flip 8 was the greatest golf cooler ever created. This YETI Backflip 24 will be the first 2018 contender to that throne.

      It holds 24 Cans, Flips Open, and Goes on Your Back

       
      So the name is not crazy innovative, but it's catchy, and it tells you exactly what to expect from the YETI Backflip 24. This cooler expands Yeti's soft sided cooler Hopper offerings into uncharted territories. Sure, they have other coolers that can hold about 20 cans, but the Backflip 24 is the first cooler that can be worn like a backpack.

      How is a backpack cooler appropriate for golf? We will get to that shortly, but first let's take a look at the cooler itself.

      Specs and Features: YETI Backflip 24

      Like YETI's other soft sided coolers, the Backflip 24 comes equipped with the standard specs that make these coolers cold-securing beasts. To review:

      DRYHIDEâ„¢ SHELL
      The Hopper's high-density fabric is waterproof and resistant to mildew, punctures, and UV rays. The liner is made from an FDA-approved food-grade material.


      COLDCELLâ„¢ INSULATION
      Closed-cell rubber foam offers far superior cold-holding to ordinary soft coolers.


      HYDROLOKâ„¢ ZIPPER
      The toughest, highest-performing waterproof and leak proof cooler zipper in the world.


      I've been using YETI Hopper coolers for a couple of years now and they have definitely lived up to the expectations. I've taken them to the golf course, camping, on road trips, to all-day youth rugby tournaments, swim meets, and so on, and never once has the Yeti failed to keep its contents cool, or suffered any kind of mechanical failure.

      The Backflip 24 features the same insulation and zipper system as the other soft-sided Hopper coolers, and the combination of the two, really keep the cold insides cold. The combination of YETI Ice and normal ice kept the inside of my Hopper 40 cold for days last summer while camping.

      Remember though, no dry ice, or the YETI will become pressurized as the dry ice sublimates. A high pressure cooler is not a safe cooler.

      It's a Cavernous Cooler

       
      The YETI Backflip 24 devours cans and bottles. Twenty-four cans fit inside without issue, fitting in as three rows of eight cans, or as two sideways rows of twelve each. In either configuration, there was room left over for ice.

      I think that the picture above does the best job of showing the capacity of this beast. I have placed a six-pack and a 22 oz. bomber inside of the Backflip 24. Yep, that tiny little bottle in there is a 22 ounce bottle.
       

       
      This cooler should be able to store any of your tall beverages, easily swallowing a champagne bottle, or a fifth of one's favorite spirit. Only the tallest magnum will poke its nose above the lip of the Backflip.

      Back That Cooler Up

       
      The real design tweak with the Backflip 24 is that it is designed to be worn as a backpack, allowing you to take the weight of the cooler, and canned content, off of a single strapped shoulder, and distribute it over both shoulders. Spreading the weight around reduces the overall strain of carrying the cooler, much like adding the second shoulder strap did with the golf bag.

      The shoulder straps and back pad are sufficiently padded for comfort, though I wish they were a little more ventilated. Most of the modern backpack systems utilize some kind of geometric foam system in the straps and pads to maintain comfort while facilitating cooling by improving air flow. These pads are a bit old school.
       


      Once you load it all up, you are looking at quite a bit of weight on the back. Here is a shot showing the weight of a cooler loaded up with 24 cans. Add some ice, and the weight would be even higher.
       

       
      Thankfully, YETI has added two optional strap systems to help with the load. There is a chest strap that you can attach to remove some of the shoulder pull, and a waist belt that really helps to move quite a bit of weight from the shoulders to the hips. Those of you who have done any backpacking know of the power of the waist strap.
       



      YETI vs. RTIC SIDE NOTE
      Since this is always a point of discussion, I thought that I'd share my experiences comparing the two brands. I actually have also purchased a few RTIC coolers in the past year, buying three of the 8 can lunch box sized coolers for Christmas presents last December.
       
      Side by side, the quality and design differences between the two brands was pretty obvious, with the YETI being better built. Sure, you'll save some money with the RTIC, but that savings is reflected in what you get in the product. RTICs are nice, but the YETI coolers are of higher quality, at least in my opinion.

      OK, It's A Cool Cooler, But GOLF?

       
      So you may never require twenty-four beers on a golf course, but if you need them, the YETI Backflip 24 will snuggle nicely into the cart rack between the seats and the clubs. The base diameter is just perfect to slide in, and even with the tall profile, the cooler doesn't immediately call attention to itself. You are one jacket cover up away from full marshal avoidance.

      You can keep a foursome worth of snacks and beverages cold in the Backflip 24 without issue in your cart.
       


      Out of the riding cart, the Backflip 24 loses some of its golfability. It's probably not going to work too well on your back, if you are also planning on carrying a golf bag on your back. I suppose you could put your golf bag on your back, and the cooler on your front, but Ms. Manners would definitely frown on that look.

      Push carters will probably also balk at the wearing of the cooler, though it's much more of a possibility when your clubs are on a cart. You could wear the Backflip 24 while you push your clubs, but odds are that you are pushing your clubs to get their weight off your back in the first place.
       


      If you are a walker, I'd go with the Hopper Flip 8.

      Off of the course, I've really found value with the backpack configuration of the Backflip 24. Using a more traditional cooler, I can't count the number of times that I've run out of hand and shoulder space when trucking gear to a youth sporting event, or even when heading to a neighborhood BBQ (walking there, naturally.)

      Putting the cooler on the back frees up all kinds of carry-ability for other stuff, and the weight of the beverages and such really dissipates when placed on your back as opposed to your hands or single shoulder. Though I'll likely never use this cooler when walking the course, it has become the goto cooler for other beverage requiring events. It cross trains very well.
       
      BONUS COVERAGE: YETI Sidekick DRY

       
      One of the complaints that I've had with the stock YETI coolers is that there aren't exterior, or interior pockets to store your non-cooler junk like phones, wallets, and keys. It would be nice to have a spot for them so that they need not be stuffed into pockets or socks.
       
      For my Hopper 12, I purchased the previous incarnation of the Sidekick, and it did a nice job of holding the extra junk, easily attaching to the HitchPoint grid on the outside of the cooler. The issue was that the zipper on top was not totally water proof. Resistant, sure, but the contents were not dry-bag secure.
       

       
      Such is not the case with the new YETI Sidekick Dry. This pouch opens like a dry bag, with a double layered system that prevents any water penetration. The top folds over, and then a series of plastic and magnets securely seal that inner opening.
       
      This new Sidekick attaches to the cooler using the same HitchPoint system, aka perfectly measured loops that attach via Velcro. If you are looking at this cooler, I'd take a look at the Sidekick Dry too as it makes the overall product much more of a one stop carrying item when the Backflip and the Sidekick Dry are combined.
       


    • By GolfSpy Dave
      UE BLAST: A BOOM with a Bonus
      https://www.ultimateears.com/en-us/wireless-speakers/blast.html

       
      Ultimate Ears for Ultimate Bluetooth Audio
      Time and time again, I have been impressed with Ultimate Ears speakers. Those of you who have followed along with the speaker reviews, or checked out my audio addendum thread, know that my love and respect for the tune delivery of UE speakers is based upon not one or two models, but SIX MODELS. From the ROLL to the WONDERBOOM, these speakers are the gold standard portable audio units for me, by quite a large margin.
       
      Today, we add a seventh model to the review set, the UE BLAST.
       
      With the BLAST, Ultimate Ears brings their superior audio delivery to the world of smart speakers. Not only are we looking at a speaker that will pair with your phone through Bluetooth, but also one that has the potential to do so much more through the power of Amazon's Alexa wireless connectivity.
       
      Audio First

       
      For me, the most important thing to address first is sound quality. I really don't care what else a speaker can do if lousy sound quality makes me not want to listen to it.
       
      I am happy to say, and not a bit surprised, that the UE BLAST has UE BOOM audio prowess. This speaker delivers the same rich, 360° sound that the UE BOOM and MEGABOOM speakers are known for producing. Bass is deep, perhaps not trunk-rattling, but like the other UE speakers, the BLAST delivers more bass than one would expect from a small speaker.
       

       
      You can see from the family photo that the BLAST is not quite the same size as the BOOM. My guess is that UE needed just a little more room to house the Alexa-enabling hardware. Regardless, we are still looking at cup-holder portability. The BLAST will have an easy ride along in your golf cart, or in the drink holder on your pushcart.
       
      The on-unit controls are just like those found on the other UE speakers. You control volume with the larger + and – buttons, with power and pairing controlled by the buttons on the top. The BLAST charges with the included USB cable and outlet adapter.
       

       
      Additionally, keeping with the BOOM design, the BLAST is equipped with a carabiner-friendly D-Ring on its base. That D-Ring allows you to attach the BLAST to just about anything, but it also can be removed to enable a new way to charge the speaker.
       
      UE Power-Up

       
      The UE Power-Up system is new to the UE BLAST (and MEGABLAST) line. Once you swap out the original D-Ring for the one included in the Power-Up package, you can now charge the BLAST by setting it on the Power-Up base.
       


       
      This will allow the UE BLAST to become a more permanent digital appliance, though it can be moved off of the base easily enough. This does ensure that the BLAST will always be charged and available, and charging no longer requires flipping open the charging port and attaching the cable. Plus, it's pretty hard to forget to charge the speaker if you have a charging base to put it away on.
       
      All in all, the BLAST audio is just like BOOM audio, and for me, that's a really good thing.
       
      The only real negative sound-wise with the UE BLAST is that it cannot pair with the other UE speakers in the PartyUp section of the UE BOOM app. Sadly, the BLAST must party solo. Hopefully this is something that can be fixed with a software/firmware update down the road, allowing the BLAST to join the party too.
       
      Getting to the Point: The BLAST is SMART

       
      If all we had to look at was the audio of the BLAST, I can see where one would wonder about why UE would release the BLAST when we already have the BOOM. To put it simply, the UE BLAST is smarter than the BOOM.
       
      Smart speakers are really starting to take hold in the marketplace. I think that Apple's iPhone Siri function is likely responsible for introducing consumers to the concept of voice control. Now, two of the tech biggies, Google and Amazon, are pushing the voice-control envelope, ideally pushing it right into your living room.
       
      The UE BLAST gets its “smarts” through Amazon, thus making your new digital assistant Alexa just a spoken “Alexa” away.
       
      When it comes to voice command, I'm kind of old school. I don't use Siri much, and I definitely did not have a smart speaker in the house before the BLAST arrived. As such, I went into the whole smart speaker thing bright-eyed and blank-slated.
       
      As a long-time Amazon Prime user, I was most excited about using the BLAST to access Prime Music without the necessity of a cell phone intermediate. “Alexa play...” was the first command issued to the BLAST, and then the music began to play.
       
      If you use Amazon Music, the Alexa interaction is very seamless. IHeartRadio and Tunein are also supported over wifi, but the real killer app is Amazon Music. They even hook you up with three months of Amazon Unlimited when you sign-in with the BLAST app. Yes, you will need to download an app on your phone to get everything connected and the BLAST running, but after that, BLAST can fly solo.
       
      You can use the voice control to play specific songs, artists, and Amazon Music Stations (my favorite). Communication is easy, and Alexa does a pretty good job of understanding you, though when I ask for The Smiths, she always sends me to Sam Smith. What's wrong with The Smiths, Alexa?
       
      You can also adjust volume, skip songs, repeat songs, play, and pause all just by asking Alexa to do so. It's actually more convenient than I expected, especially when doing something that is occupying your hands, like typing.
       
      As for what else Alexa can do for me, that I'm still exploring, and I think that it's expanding as well. Here is a LINK to the Alexa part of Amazon. If you scroll to the bottom, you can see more of the things that you can do with Alexa, from ordering an Uber, to controlling the lights and thermostat in your house (add on products required).
       
      As I mentioned before, I'm new to smart speaker land, and I don't know exactly what Alexa's job description will ultimately look like. I think that it will take some time to move from a phone-based wireless interface to the voice-based one from Alexa. It is cool though to see the technology, and capabilities develop. Check that link above. You really can do a lot of stuff with Alexa!
       
      BLAST vs. BOOM vs. Amazon “Other”

       
      The MSRP on the UE BLAST is $229.99, coming in at $30 over the BOOM 2's MSRP and more than that when you check the BOOM 2 prices on Amazon and Best Buy. Alexa hardware can be had for as low as $30 for an Echo Dot.
       
      So is the BLAST worth it? That's really up to you and what you want to use it for. If you have neither speaker, nor Alexa hardware, the BLAST is right there price-wise. Remember too that the speaker will work just like the other UE speakers too. That's a huge plus if you don't have one yet.
       
      If you are on the fence about the whole smart speaker thing, maybe saving the money to just get a BOOM 2 is the way to go. If you just want to chat with Alexa and hear music through her tiny speaker, go with the cheap Amazon device.
       
      Anyway, the UE BLAST is a solid marriage of the UE high-quality audio and Amazon Alexa's smart-speaker platform. I'm curious to see if the whole smart-speaker thing really becomes an integral part of our daily lives or not. If not, you'll still be left with a great speaker.
       
       
      Specifications: UE BLAST Smart Speaker

      360 SOUND
      ·      Maximum Sound Level: 90 dBC
      ·      Frequency Range: 90Hz - 20kHz 
      ·      Drivers: Two 35mm active drivers and two 81mm x 39mm passive radiators.
      HANDS-FREE VOICE CONTROL
      ·      Amazon Alexa built-in for hands-free voice on Wi-Fi, both at home or on-the-go. BLAST / MEGABLAST is a standalone Alexa enabled device and does not require an Echo or Dot.
      FAR-FIELD VOICE RECOGNITION
      ·      Multiple microphones with beam forming technology and noise cancellation enable a smooth far field voice recognition and control experience. 
      POWER
      ·      Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Battery for up to 12 hours of battery life.*
      COMPATIBILITY
      ·      Requires a Wi-Fi router with 802.11 a,b,g, or n for first time setup. Audio Playback supported for Bluetooth® devices with advanced audio distribution profile (A2DP).
      WIRELESS CAPABILITIES
      ·      Dual-band Wi-Fi supports 802.11 a/b/g/n (2.4 and 5 GHz) networks
      ·      Bluetooth - Pair up to 8 Bluetooth® enabled source devices. 
      ·      Wi-Fi range: 100m / 330ft
      ·      Bluetooth range: 45m / 150ft
      SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS
      ·      Wi-Fi network and a compatible Android or iOS mobile device required. Minimum OS requirements are iOS 10.2 or Android 5.0. Certain skills and services may require subscription or other fees. When tethering to a mobile device hotspot, standard data rates may apply.
      WATERPROOF
      ·      IP67 waterproof and dustproof. BLAST can be immersed in liquid up to 1m for up to 30 minutes.
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