Photo: Adam Clark Estes (Gizmodo)

The Wonderboom is one of my favorite gadgets. It’s a round little Bluetooth speaker that’s easy to use and sounds terrific. The Wonderboom is even durable enough that you can bounce it on the ground or throw it in the toilet, which I do not recommend. Ultimate Ears, the creators of this affordable gadget, just made a handful of improvements to Wonderboom. Meet the Wonderboom 2.

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Simply put, the $100 Wonderboom 2 is a better version of an already great Bluetooth speaker. The most obvious difference is the smooth speckled fabric that wraps around the device. Ultimate Ears calls the new look “athleisure-inspired,” and while I’m not entirely sure I know what athleisure is, the Wonderboom 2 does look like it’s wrapped in overpriced yoga pants. I liked the old solid color speaker design and especially loved the futuristic-looking fabric on the Wonderboom’s big sibling, the UE Boom 3. But my opinions on fabric aside, the new Wonderboom looks adorable.

It also sounds better than its predecessor. If you put the two speakers side-by-side, you’ll notice that the Wonderboom 2 is just a teeny bit bigger than the original. What’s inside are some slightly upgraded guts that enable the Wonderboom 2 to get a little bit louder and deliver better bass response. The Wonderboom 2 also features a new Outdoor Mode that you activate by pressing a cute little button on the bottom that looks like a tree. This will tweak the equalizer so that the sound travels further in open spaces. It scales back to bass and pumps the upper range. Outdoor Mode makes the tiny speaker sound better, too. I tried it out on my rooftop, and the Wonderboom 2 got louder than I wanted it to, despite the expanse.

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Photo: Adam Clark Estes (Gizmodo)

Speaking of sound, the audio quality is noticeably improved. In a side-by-side test with the original Wonderboom, the Wonderboom 2 delivered a richer listening experience. I can’t say that the Wonderboom sounds as good (or gets as loud) as the $150 Boom 3 and certainly not the $200 Megaboom 3. But for a small apartment, it’s all the boom you need. “Biggest Part of Me” by Ambrosia sounded warm and inviting on the Wonderboom 2, and “One More Time” by Daft Punk sounded bright and energetic. Although I did notice improved bass on the Wonderboom 2, it definitely won’t blow you away. For a real thump, you’ll need a bigger speaker.

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The Wonderboom 2 also gained a couple more handy features. It now sports an extra button on top of the speaker that lets you play, pause, and skip tracks. If you get two Wonderboom 2's together, you can also hold this button on both speakers to activate wireless stereo playback, which is not possible with the original Wonderboom. And back to that topic of durability, the Wonderboom 2 is now IP67 rated, which means it’s not only waterproof but also dustproof, which makes it very beach-friendly.

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Photo: Adam Clark Estes (Gizmodo)

Let me be frank: I love the Wonderboom 2 just slightly more than I love the original Wonderboom. It’s only slightly better, which is great, but that also means you probably shouldn’t ditch your old Wonderboom to upgrade to a new one. And because UE lowered the prices of its Boom and Megaboom in their latest iterations, you might even consider a proper upgrade to a more full-featured Boom. (UE frequently discounts its products so you should be able to do $20-30 cheaper across the line if you’re judicious about when you buy.)

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One issue with both generations of Wonderboom is that they don’t connect to an app for more controls and they can’t pair with a Boom or Megaboom. This is hardly a dealbreaker if you just want an awesome speaker that’s easy to use and holds up to abuse. However, at $150, the Boom 3 is still a better speaker than the Wonderboom on any day of the week.

Photo: Adam Clark Estes (Gizmodo)

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One issue I have with all of the new Boom and Wonderboom speakers is that they still use Micro USB. And while I hate to be the reviewer complaining about USB ports, it does feel like this year would have been the right one to make the switch to USB-C. Then again, Sony’s new, very Boom-like Bluetooth speakers also use Micro USB, so maybe I’m the only one who cares.

There aren’t a lot of downsides to the Wonderboom 2. It’s ultra-portable, fun to be around, and built like a tank. In fact, the toughest part of deciding to buy a Wonderboom 2 is figuring out which color to get. If you want to spend no more than $100 on Bluetooth speaker, the Wonderboom 2 is for you. If you can spare an extra $50, the Boom 3 is a damn good deal.

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README

  • The best cheap Bluetooth speaker is now slightly better and just as cheap
  • New Outdoor Mode makes the Wonderboom 2 sound louder outdoors
  • Still not as good a Boom 3.
  • Damn good deal!

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