Review: Yubz MAGNUM Bluetooth speaker

yubz magnum
Bluetooth is one of those funny technologies that has an awful lot of potential, but with very few actually useful implementations. Bluetooth headsets are no longer cool. Bluetooth mice and keyboards are quickly becoming the de facto devices for this technology. What else is there? Well, friends, I’m here to tell you that the YUBZ MAGNUM is nearly perfect Bluetooth gadget.

The Basics
Basically the MAGNUM is a battery-powered cylindrical Bluetooth speaker. You pair it with a Bluetooth device, and it makes the pretty sounds. I easily paired the MAGNUM with my iPhone and enjoyed streaming music to it. Without a doubt, this thing is perfect for cookouts, picnics, and other outdoor activities: it’s small, lightweight, and provides great output. The fact that it can operate on 4 AA batteries makes it a terrific on-the-go gadget.

Initial Impressions
The MAGNUM is all black, with a rubbery leather skin. The speakers are at either end of the tube. The whole thing rolls quite nicely, and this is something to keep in mind when you place it on a flat surface. More than once it almost rolled away from me. The control buttons are just below the YUBZ logo, and they’re extremely hard to see: they’re flush with the unit, covered in the same skin, and also black. You really need to read the manual and memorize the button locations. Thankfully, only three buttons are regularly needed: power (far right), volume down (second from the left) and volume up (third from the left). The other buttons provide stop, forward, and back functionality so you can control your Bluetooth audio source from the MAGNUM itself.

I was a bit skeptical of the claim of 10-hour battery life, so I put the MAGNUM to the test: I paired it with my Mac Mini and started streaming my impressive MP3 collection to it. Then I went to bed. I woke up nine hours later, and the MAGNUM was going strong. It continued to play my music while I showered, ate breakfast, and reviewed the fine CrunchGear comments.

But wait! There’s more!
If that were all the MAGNUM did, I’d have no problem giving it a hearty thumbs-up. But it has a few more features which are worth mentioning. First, it has a line-in jack, so you can connect any audio device to it without the need for Bluetooth. I connected the audio cable to my aforementioned Mac Mini and watched a number of movies, pumping the audio out through the MAGNUM. It did an admirable job. It’s no surround sound system, but in my tiny living room it was more than adequate.

yubz magnum

Incidentally, I also listened to a movie or two via Bluetooth to the MAGNUM, and this worked out just fine, too. I was able to place the MAGNUM on my coffee table, closer to my couch, which allowed me to listen to the films at a lower volume. I did notice a very slight audio sync issue, though: the dialog would be heard just a fraction of a second after you’d see the characters’ lips move. It was a little jarring when I first noticed it, but it wasn’t so substantial as to ruin the movie for me.

The other nice feature of the MAGNUM Is that it has a power outlet, allowing you to run the device from AC rather than batteries. Moreover, the included power cable is nothing more than a special USB cable connected to one of those USB-to-AC blocks. Unfortunately, the end you plug into the MAGNUM is a special connector, so you can’t use any old USB cable. Still, I liked being able to connect the MAGNUM to either a power outlet or a USB port for those situations when my rechargeable batteries are all depleted.

Finally, the MAGNUM also packs a microphone, so you can use it as a hands-free speakerphone. If you’re rocking out to a playlist on your iPhone while you’re at a family picnic, you can let your whole family participate when that Important Client interrupts your weekend with their Important Call. Or, I suppose, you could use this on holidays to talk with relatives, rather than pass the phone around to each person like we did when I was a kid.

In the box
In addition to the MAGNUM itself, you get an audio cable, a power cable, and a fancy little carrying pouch with shoulder strap. The carrying pouch includes a couple little straps that you could use to fasten to your bike’s handlebars, perhaps, if you want to be That Guy riding around your neighborhood. The MAGNUM, with the included accessories, shouts “portable!”

The Bottom Line
The MAGNUM came in extremely handy last night, in fact. I hung a sheet from the carport in the back yard and projected The Dark Crystal onto it for a few friends. My laptop’s speakers were too wimpy to fill the backyard with sound, so I connected the MAGNUM to my laptop via the audio cable, and plugged the power into my laptop’s USB port (all my rechargeable batteries were depleted!). Everyone was able to hear the whimpering Chamberlain, and Jen’s androgynous voice, and the wise Mystic’s final words.

I have thoroughly enjoyed using the YUBZ MAGNUM. If you’re looking for a decent speaker for your home entertainment rig, the MAGNUM is one to consider: it works great wired or wireless, and you can take it with you when you’re out and about. At $110, the price isn’t too bad, either.