Bluetooth speakers are a dime a dozen. Every company around has a handful of options to choose from, and we’ve tried most of them, and even reviewed a lot of them here. Trying to figure out what is fluff and what is actually a viable option has been fun, interesting, and tiresome. We’ve dedicated tons and tons of hours into reviewing, testing, dizzying, and listening to tons of hours worth of horrible music, finding the perfect bluetooth speaker for you. Offering a speaker giving you the bang for your buck that you are probably looking for isn’t as easy as you’d think. Does the speaker have decent battery life, is it rugged or waterproof, does it have the sound that will make your friends go “ooooohhhhh,” does it look like a speaker or does it look like a crazy-ass-space-age orb lending you amazing sound. These are the things we wade through so you don’t spend your money on some shatty piece of cassette tape replacing technology.
To be honest, this speaker looks a lot like something that would be featured in a rap video, being held above someones head. It doesn’t look very sleek or sexy. It isn’t something you might want sitting out in a fancy environment, setting the smooth jazzy setting you’d be looking for. But, once you pick this son of a gun up, you’ll be blown away by the weight packed in such a small punch. It’s actually a lot heavier than it looks, giving you the feeling that it is much more expensive than you initially thought.
It’s a somewhat simple design, although giving you many features hidden in said simple design. The grip loops on each side are both ribbed on the inside and outside of the handle, giving you an exceptional grip on-the-go in the wild, offering you a safe handle during any of your adventures. Not only are you given a way to hold on to this beast with your hands, there is a small loop on the back, working with the included carabiner to attach to anything you’re close to. I wouldn’t recommend attaching to your pants, unless them hanging half way down your arse is your thing, clipping it to a raft, inner tube, or even your bike will offer a way to bust some sweet tunes no matter your sport.
I’ve used an ECOXGEAR bluetooth speaker in the past, and considering how small that one was – on par with a Jawbone or equivalent speaker – the ECOXBT isn’t as compact and portable as you’d hope. Given the sheer size of the speaker, I can’t really recommend the travel aspect as much as I can the travel with baggage idea. If you are going to the beach, you’ll expect to be packing a towel or two, an inner tube, a chair, a change of clothes, or whatever else you’d think of, so dragging along this speaker would make sense. If you were heading somewhere with less baggage, I’d recommend something smaller you could thrown in a bag or a purse. But to be fair, this speaker probably isn’t meant for the latter. It’s meant for the sporty, rugged, adventurous of those out there that would need a speaker on the go that will handle anything you could throw at it.
The ECOXBT comes in a sturdy, rubber finish, draped in black and red(mine did, you can also get all black, or black and orange). The front of the speaker is all grille, nothing else really to speak of. On the top of the device you have a power button, a bluetooth sync button, track rocker as well as a call answer/end button. The buttons are flush with the top of the device (and only located on the top of the device) so you don’t have to worry about catching them on anything, ever, this is a great design aspect that I fell in love with initially. I first found them somewhat hard to press at times, but I realized that if I was spending my time pressing from an angle, as if I was dealing with a button not flush with the level of the device, it wasn’t ideal. Once I started pressing straight down I found no issue at all. The Mic for the speaker function is located just below the front facing grille, to the left of the very small and non-intrusive logo. The rear of the speaker has nothing more than a battery/charging cover and the loop for your carabiner. The charging port has an O-ring to keep any water/moisture out, which you’ll want to make sure is in place prior to bathing, as an obvious mention 😉 The biggest features are that this speaker is not only waterproof, but it will float, so if you happen to lose this on the go while swimming or floating, it’ll float until you can drown in its general vicinity.
The ECOXBT is actually a really nice speaker when it comes to performance. The last ECOXGEAR I was given did not live up to my expectations, between performance, design, and my experience, I was reluctant to really have a fun time with this device, but I was really proven wrong in the end. In regards to what this is made of – a speaker – you really are given a great experience. The volume level is strictly tagged with your device. There are no volume controls on the device, controlled exclusively via your smartphone. I was able to get adequate volume at the 1/3rd setting on my iPhone 6, cranking it to 11 really gave insane levels. I was really surprised that this device could growl out such levels of music. It makes sense considering you are probably going to use this in extreme settings, but still, I was impressed.
To speak to that above note, the levels are somewhat simple. There isn’t much bass to sound, giving a thin experience. The volume will get loud, but if you are a music connoisseur you’ll probably be disappointed. If you are just in it for having something to blast some tunes in your crazy snowboarding excursions, then this will be for you. If you want to litter your house with great sounding speakers to set any and every mood, you might want to keep shopping. Most speakers at this price-point will offer the same sound, but will probably not have the rugged design included, so considering the average buyer for this device, at this price range, will most likely be overly thrilled with the sound and overall experience. One issue I had with the device is that ECOXGEAR boast stereo speakers, but this isn’t really noticeable at a close proximity because of how close they are together. Move away a few feet and you can tell that they aren’t mono. Again, this is situation as some of the points I am making in this review, but something to take note of.
As far as the speakerphone is concerned, I was minimally impressed with the experience. Usually with these speakers, I can stand decently far away from the device and still have a good call experience, but with the last ECOXGEAR device I was given, and this one, you really can’t get too far away without having to repeat yourself to the caller or have other issues. This device was better than my last ECOXGEAR experience, but still not up to what I’d expect, especially from a device that you’ll be using on the go and probably not just sitting in front of you on a table. ECOXGEAR should develop a way to improve the speakerphone quality in real-world settings, giving this a positive note above the competition. The sound quality is good, it’s just the mic that needs some help.
When it comes to battery life, ECOXGEAR boasts 12 hours of battery life, until you dig into the tech specs and you’re only given 10 hours of play or talk time, utilizing a Lithium rechargeable battery, charged via included USB-AC cable. After charging for the recommended 2 hours (I charged for a good 4 hours) was able to rock out to music in the shower, rain, and sleet for a whopping 10 hours and 29 minutes. This is actually quite adequate for my everyday life. I won’t be active for more than a few minutes at a time, so having a rugged speaker while on the go lasting this long is overkill for what I need. But even for the active amongst us, you’ll be happy with the 10+ hours of play/talk time to be had.
Overall, the ECOXBT is a great speaker. Keeping the volume in the midlevel, you’ll notice no quality issues. The average user looking for a rugged speaker that isn’t to impress the most-hardcore-music-snob will love this device. The design isn’t the best – minus the boombox-esque grip design – you’re given a tough speaker, with some impressive features that really makes the price point of $129.99 reasonable. Stereo speakers, stuffed into a rugged, waterproof, floatable device is a huge win. The design can be forgiven when considering what the design grants you. Recessed buttons to keep flush with the top of the device is great when you are looking for something rugged. Other devices I’ve tested in the rugged category neglect to keep this type of focus, even some older ECOXGEAR speakers. Great sound at certain levels is a win, although many speakers at this price point have better bass and overall sound. If you are into a device that will keep up with any and everything you can do, all while giving you decent sound quality, the ECOXBT is a speaker you should try out. You’ll be happy with the beating it’ll take. While it’s ruggedness/drop protection doesn’t best its waterproof ability, it’s good enough. I’ll admit that I gave this a drop from a story up and it worked fine. This might be limited to me, but It took as much as a beating as it did getting swirled in the water in my shower, as well as the rain dropping from the sky in Portland.
I can definitely find myself recommending this speaker as long as you are looking for ruggedness and a speaker that is waterproof. If you are looking for the best sound quality, then keep looking. If you want something that gives your adventurous side a way to enjoy music, then consider it. If you are torn, just look at the main image above, that will make anyone want to pick it up!
Product Page ECOXGEAR ECOXBT