Sometimes I refer to Kickstarter as the “land of broken dreams,” especially when I’m looking through my backer history and noting how few projects actually delivered, and how disappointing were most of the ones that did. The Boombot Rex does not fall into either of those categories, thanks to an experienced team that sent me a review unit of the shipping product a couple of weeks ago.
- 6 hours battery, 1 hour charging time
- 85mm x 80mm x 54mm
- 3.5mm aux input
- MSRP: $119.99
- Product info page
The Boombot Rex has a design that isn’t quite like any other Bluetooth speaker out there, with a pretty much hexagonal shape that can be easily palmed, only a little bit larger than a hockey puck. It’s extremely portable, and that’s sort of the point: The Rex has a clip built into the back, and it’s meant to be the speaker you reach for when you set out on an adventure, thanks to weather resistance and a general hardiness that comes in handy while hiking, camping, biking, fighting pirates or whatever else.
The surface of the Rex is coated in a matte, rubberized ABS plastic housing, which is both durable and pleasant to touch, and there are a number of colorways to choose from. We got the “Savage Green” edition, given TC’s penchant for green things, and while the vibrant colors make it look a little like a child’s toy, the feel of the speaker suggests tremendous durability, as it’s completely solid and there’s no errant rattling or anything else going on. The clip is perfect for securing it to some board shorts, and there are flaps to keep mud, dirt and water out of the speaker’s three ports.
The Rex has a built-in speakerphone, and the noise cancelling tech used make it good for that purpose. It can also call up Siri with a long-press of the center button (between volume up and down) on the top of the speaker, and in my testing the iOS virtual assistant was as effective as when used from the phone itself. It’s perfect for a device meant to help you enjoy music and also stay connected while you’re doing activities where earbuds or headphones would hamper you.
It works really well. I can’t believe the sound that comes out of this diminutive speaker. It’s not on par with something like the Big Jambox, but it’s very capable with its dual drivers, especially considering its other advantages, even when biking through a forest on a fairly fast wooded path. And its durability works, too. I used it in light rain, and fell off my bike a few times with it on, and the Rex didn’t skip a beat, which is more than I can say for my shins.
Battery life is about what Boombot advertises for the Rex. It isn’t anywhere near the longest in the category, but it does the job, especially for active outings. As a set-and-forget option for camping trips, I’d have appreciated a lot more reach, maybe say double the time the Rex puts out.
Speakerphone functions work great on this unit as mentioned, though, and the Siri integration is actually really handy for quickly checking stuff like the weather forecast or for making calls without ever having to take your phone out of your pocket, which can really come in handy if you’re caught in the rain or, I dunno, sliding down the side of a mountain.
An active lifestyle is an oft-used marketing strategy, for electronics in particular. But the Rex actually is a good device for people who regularly expose themselves to the elements, it isn’t just posturing as one. And even if your desire to live a little more extreme is more aspirational than anything else, the Rex is a solid option in a portable Bluetooth speaker in any circumstances, that at least offers you the option of getting out of the office once in a while.