Boombotix and its unusual, vinyl art toy looking Japanese-inspired Boombot2 speaker received a mildly hesitant review from us late last year for being an awkward, poor performing portable speaker that even a hipster could live without. Fortunately, some sense has been knocked into Boombotix because the company's latest offering is less indie and more of a predominant looking speaker that's promises better sounding lows with a side of awesomeness. Boombotix's new Boombot Rex is a dual-driver, bass woofer-armed, ultra-portable rugged wireless Bluetooth speaker you can clip onto stuff including yourself while skating recklessly around town or snow boarding down a gnarly slope to the tune of Shaun White's adrenaline filled playlist. Are you even active bro? If so, our full review awaits you down below!
The Boombot Rex is vastly more appealing than Boombotix's pop art covered abomination of a speaker, but we're not judging your sense of style or taste in music. Hexagonally shaped to be different than some of the perfectly rounded and brick shaped speakers currently floating around, the Boombot Rex has gathered a following thanks in part to its rugged geometry and small size which can be confirmed when taking a look at the wildly successful Kickstarter funding made to its name. Influenced by not much, I'd be lying if I said I didn't like what the Boombot Rex has going for it. This really is a small compact speaker when you grab it with your hand nearly clawing it like tennis ball. But if you compare it against a similarly compact speaker like JBL's Micro Wireless, you'd immediately notice the difference in bulk with the Boombot Rex being less sleek design wise.
With its ultra-small size, the Boombot Rex competes against JBL's $60 Micro Wireless speaker, but its ambitious $120 price point says otherwise. It's the smallest wireless speaker we know of that packs both a dual speaker driver setup along with a discrete sub woofer driver. To put things into prospective, the JBL Flip is $100 and although it's larger, has a higher quality sound and construction.
From first impressions, I had no expectations whatsoever in hearing anything that's remotely decent out of the Boombot Rex. So I was surprised that it managed to blow me away considering its incredibly small size that isn't any bigger than the palm of your hand. What took me by surprise it that the Boombot Rex can fill up a large space with music as its volume goes up as loud as the JBL Flip and Charge speakers, however, at those levels the sound does distort sadly. It's always an impressive feat when such a small package delivers such high volume without sounding muddy or tinny. Come to think of it, the Boombot Rex is the loudest portable speaker of its size that we have ever tested that sounds good even at high volume.
Like JBL's $100 Flip and $150 Charge, highs are the Rex's strong point which isn't a big surprise considering its physically limited to that particular sound spectrum even though its got a dedicated bass radiator right behind the speaker drivers. Vocals sound really nice coming out of such a compact speaker, and the lack of detail around the midrange and lack of rich full bass can be forgiven once you listen to the Boombot Rex whilst it barely covers the palm of your hand. You'll have to make a few compromises if you want such a compact wireless speaker that sounds great considering its size, but $120 is a tough pill to swallow no less. It seems as though the "sub woofer" does little to nothing in presenting an audible low response.
As much as I like the treble-filled highs which sound great when listening to vocal-heavy tracks, movies and TV shows, the bass or lack of, as well as the mids sound underwhelming compared. It's not to say they make the Boombot Rex terrible, because such a small speaker really can't produce better audio quality than what the Boombot Rex outputs. But when being reminded of its price tag, the Boombot Rex doesn't offer much in return compared to JBL's Flip which we think surpasses the Rex with its audio performance. In terms of hardware, you know you aren't going to be getting a rich audio experience from a speaker that's as lightweight as the Boombot Rex. For an extra $80, you can get Bose's SoundLink Mini which is remarkably superior and delivers bass that's best in its class.
So yes the bass coming out of the Boombot Rex's "sub woofer" sounds like passively strumming a bass string guitar held up close to your ear, and the build quality that can be compared to a $10 generic speaker, however, the Boombot Rex does indeed follow through with loud sound that will sound freaking awesome when you'll be drunk. So it really doesn't matter as long as you can clip on a wireless speaker that's this small, compact and decently loud and fairly acceptable when completely sober.
Looking past its ABS plastic body coated in a matte rubbery textured finish, the Boombot Rex has got what would be defined as a cheap-feeling build quality that's plasticky and underwhelming compared to most other portable speakers at this price range. For the price you pay, there's nothing here that merits that in quality and overall pleasing experience that you otherwise would get with other speakers that cost just as much if not less. There's a metal perforated grille covering the speaker drivers underneath that actually feels quite nice as it has a solid protective feel to it.
The Boombot Rex does make up for its unpleasing, arguably rubbish exterior qualities with an IP53 certification. That means it's water-resistant to withstand all weather conditions which lets you use it in the rain and in the snow, but where you can't use it is underwater. Although Boombotix says you can use it whilst surfing which is a contradicting claim nonetheless. You would have never guessed the Boombot Rex has this kind of weather durability just by holding it. Not only is it water-resistant, but it can also withstand being tossed in dirt, sand and a puddle of muddy awfulness.
If only Boombotix spent more time on design and quality instead of presumably letting some Chinese manufacturer come up with a generic and cheap way of building a speaker you could pass off as an eBay item without a reputable name, the Boombot Rex would have had value for money ticked off besides its name. Because right now, I'm not impressed by its industrial design one bit. But that doesn't stop Boombotix from calling its industrial design "revolutionary".
As for features, the Boombot Rex doesn't skip on the basics of offering you on-board volume controls, a power on/off switch as well as a multi-function button that you can use as a play/pause, song skip button or even to bring up Siri on iOS devices without having to take your device out. With a built-in noise-canceling microphone, the Boombot Rex can be used as a speakerphone, useful when you're out in the rain and want to protect your non-water resistant iPhone. You can also speak to and hear Siri through the speakerphone functionality which has worked great during our testing.
The buttons are rubbery and obviously sealed against rain, but they're not the smoothest ones to push. They're also badly positioned just behind the back clip which makes accessing them somewhat difficult. It makes no sense that the power on/off switch would be placed conveniently at the top of the speaker whereas the more critical controls are pushed off to the back. It only becomes worse when you have the Boombot Rex clipped or mounted onto an object as it tightly presses even closer over the button controls leaving little room for your fingers.
You'll be greeted with an audible start up chime that speaks "Boombot" in a low, badly distorted, robotic-like kind of tone. Once you successfully pair your device with the Boombot Rex over Bluetooth, it'll sound another status chime but this time it'll sound like a Mario coin effect which is cool, unrelated and tacky all at the same time. A multi-color LED shines thought the speaker grille to indicate the unit is powered on (solid blue), in pairing mode (blinking blue), charging (solid green) or just low on battery (red).
You can obviously wirelessly pair the Boombot Rex to any Android or iOS device whether it be a tablet or a smartphone using Bluetooth that'll instantaneously add bigger and better sounding audio to your mobile device. But when paired particularly with an iOS device, a battery meter will be displayed near the Bluetooth status icon. And because the Boombot Rex has no on-board battery status indicator, it makes using it with an iOS device that much more convenient but of course not necessarily required.
Just below the "hip clip" you'll find a series of rubbery flap covered ports which include a 3.5mm audio input for connecting a wired audio source instead of using a Bluetooth connection, a micro-USB charging port as well as another 3.5mm line-out audio port which is used to daisy chain multiple Boombot Rex speakers together to from an unstoppable Boombot army of epic loud sound.
Inside, the Boombot Rex features a rechargeable battery yielding 6 hours of wireless playtime. However, we found that if you use the Boombot Rex at high volume, those 6 hours turn into 4 which is pretty bad when you think about it. That's not going to get you through a day out in the open I'm afraid. It charges up in less than two hours though.
Out of the box you've got everything you need to make use of those ins and outs. You've got a retractable 3.5mm to 3.5mm audio cable, another one that isn't retractable and of course a USB to micro-USB charging cable - all purple in color. It's a shame Boombotix doesn't include its optional $20 USB wall adapter instead of one of the similar audio cables because who really needs two identical cables when all you really want to do is wirelessly use the damn speaker?
I do like the fact that there's a built-in clip that although could have been much more substantial and easier to use, it does a fairly good job at letting your mount the Boombot Rex on your person or wherever its clip can clip onto such as a backpack. Because it's such a lightweight speaker, having the Boombot Rex clipped on your person is a lot like holstering your smartphone with a protective case on.
In addition to its built-in clip, the Boombot Rex can be mounted on a bike using an optional handlebar mount accessory which will set you back $40. Ouch!
Part of what makes the Boombot Rex uber hip is the fact that it can be customized with different colors or designs much like the original Boombot. Boombotix makes replaceable grille faceplates, or kits as they call them, which you can twist off to replace yourself. $20 gets you a kit consisting of a front grille, a matching clip and even color matched port covers. But removing the grille piece is extremely tough and once you've put in a different one, you're left with a speaker that looks out of place. The faux carbon fiber imprint on this interchangeable grille couldn't have been more tacky to put it nicely. Toys "R" Us comes to mind just about now.
An extremely portable wireless speaker designed for use in extreme conditions, not for for serious listening
Although it's a fairly good performer for its ultra-portable form factor, the Boombot Rex is an overpriced speaker with poor battery life despite its water-resistant prowess that on top of it all lacks refinement. If it wasn't for its unique geometric style, underneath that skin I would have assumed the Boombot Rex was just another generic speaker rebranded and slightly tweaked to fit the likes of particular company. It's extremely light on bass even though its got a discrete sub woofer built-in which Boombotix promised would put an emphasis on lows, alas face planted on its fulfillment.
If you're not serious about audio quality and simply need a compact wireless speaker that can make a lot of noise outdoors, one that can be used totally hands-free no matter how active you are - the Boombot Rex is definitely your type of speaker. But do yourself a favor and don't get caught playing bass-heavy tracks, because while you won't be made fun of for wearing a Boombot Rex, you'll be made a fool for playing Jay-Z's latest hits with absolutely no bass to back it up. Then again, it wouldn't matter when you're sliding down a snowy mountain or biking your way through a deserted bike path. In that case, the Boombot Rex will serve its purpose quite nicely we think...even if at home you've got a stellar audiophile speaker setup. However, what we really think is that Logitech's UE Mobile Boombox and JBL's Flip are both superior, cheaper alternatives you can't wear.