The UE Roll is Ultimate Ears smallest, and least expensive bluetooth wireless speaker. I had the opportunity to test it out for a few weeks around the house, in the office, and on the go. Here’s how it went, and what you should consider when buying it.
What It Is
The UE Roll is in the latest generation of Ultimate Ears’ popular portable, rugged bluetooth speakers. It’s a rounded disc, a little larger in diameter than a BluRay, fires sound out of one of the broad sides, and sits on its back resting on bungee cords. It’s bungee cord allows it to be attached to a variety of object, and it includes an audio-in port.
“UE ROLL is the 360-degree wireless Bluetooth speaker that brings unapologetically awesome sound to beaches, cliffs and mountains.”
Find official specs here: http://www.ultimateears.com/en-us/ueroll#ueroll
And be sure to check out this quick video from Digital Trends, which goes behind the scenes of the development of the UE Roll:
Who It’s For
The Roll is the smallest, lightest, and least expensive speaker in the UE wireless speaker lineup. It’s aimed at kids on a budget who want a fun, decent sounding speaker that won’t break the bank. It’s aimed at travelers looking for acceptable sound in a lightweight and rugged package. It’s aimed at beachgoers who want to turn on some podcasts or background music while hanging out. It’s certainly not for the audiophile, home high quality audio listener, or for rocking a good sized party alone.
The roll also has somewhat unconventional looks- its rounded shape make it awkward to sit on a shelf – but for getting out and about, it’s perfectly fine being placed randomly on a tree stump, poolside, or bungeed to a support beam or whatever. The volume buttons are huge and easily accessible on the front of the speaker, impossible to miss, and totally usable with gloves on.
I used the UE Roll around my home, sitting next to me in my office, bungeed to the showerhead in the shower, and even dragged it into the woods and hung it off twigs of a tree stump. I listened to lots of podcasts, and music with it, mostly on Spotify.
The Roll is a fun, bright color, and is kinda fun to hold and play with on the desk. I initially thought that the bungee cable enabled the Roll to stand up on edge with the bungee acting like a rigid kickstand – but no – the bungee is limp and rubbery, and is really just good for strapping it to bars, handing it from hooks, and attaching it to its floaty. I wasn’t super impressed with the aesthetics of it at first, but given its pretty good sound for the size, i’m convinced it’s pulling its weight.
- For its size, the Roll sounds pretty good. Music at low volume is perfectly find for background, or passive listening. If you’re hanging out with friends and need some random music to fill the background, this is great. It’s also great for podcasts. It certainly gets loud enough with no distortion to listen to podcasts over the noise of the shower or cooking. And when paired with my Macbook via Bluetooth, it’s nice to bring a louder speaker closer to me while I’m watching Hulu and cooking at the same time.
- For a shower speaker, the bungee cable is pretty neat. It’s easy to slip over the showerhead, and the waterproof port covers keep everything dry.
- The volume of the Roll is controlled directly from my iPhone. This is a small detail, but important. When I click the volume buttons on my phone, the actual volume of the Roll changes. This is in contrast with the other, less-good method of volume control, where I change the volume on my phone, giving the speaker a “hotter” output, but the actual volume setting of the device is independently controlled on the device. With the Roll, these two volumes are one and the same, which I like a lot.
- Hit both volume buttons and it tells you the battery charge level. It’s a small feature, but for a speaker that’s a pain in the ass to keep plugged in all the time, this is a good stress-relief feature.
- For its size, it gets plenty loud, and doesn’t distort.
- It’s rubberized and rugged – I’m not going to try, but it seems fairly indestructible.
- The Sriracha color I was sent is pretty damn ugly. It’s fun for beside a pool, I suppose, or if I was a bit younger. If I had kids, they’d love playing with this thing and listening to kids songs on it.
- No speakerphone feature. I guess I’m not super missing this feature, but it’s kinda nice for impromptu conference calls. I understand with the price point etc, though.
- It’s sound quality isn’t all that – it’s clear with good highs, but the bass lacks a bit. Given the size though, I’m ok with it.
- It rocks and rolls when sitting on a flat surface. Again, great for running around with, but not the best home speaker.
Should you buy it?
Sure! At this point, it’s inexpensive enough to almost impulse buy. And compared to all the other speakers in this price/size category, this is definitely the best one. If your’e looking forward to lots of hanging out at home listening to podcasts, want an occasional speaker to bring out for some background party music, or want some light tunes at the campground this summer, grab the Roll. Any more rocking out, go for the upgrade with the UE Boom or UE Megaboom (the Megaboom is my favourite..)
Find It Here
Groupon Coupons partner T-Mobile sells a few colors of the UE Roll here, and paired with one of the many coupons on Groupon Coupons, there could be some sweet discounts.
Or, find it on Amazon
For its price and size, the Roll is fun and sounds great. It’s indestructible, versatile, and interesting. Don’t look to it for party rocking volume or audiophile sound, but it gets the basic music job done well.