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Reviews

Think Outside BoomTube H2O1 Speaker System

By Legacy May 5, 2006, 12:00 am

INTRODUCTION

    Mobile music is
everywhere. We have iPods, MP3 players, PDAs, and
phones with digital music stored on them. Some
of us even still have portable CD players (that’s so 1995!). These
devices are convenient and help us to take
our music with us wherever we go. The problem becomes sharing the music with others when in a mobile situation. Sure, you
can buy a headphone jack splitter and share the
music with another person, but what happens when you
want to share your mobile music with a lot of
people?
    Enter Think Outside and the BoomTube H2O1, a device "Designed to work with nearly any portable music source, that transforms personal MP3 players, Cellular MP3 phones, or even laptop computers into a portable party." So let’s get this alleged party started, and test the claim on this new release. Read on for our test results!


WHAT’S HOT

    The Think Outside BoomTube H2O1
sports these features:

  • Dual
    amplifiers that deliver more than 40 watts of
    total system power
  • Four 2-inch
    drivers with dual-neodymium magnets and MaxxBass
    technology
  • Integrated
    crossover and EQ
  • Anodized
    aluminum housing resists stains and scratches
    while delivering better sound quality than
    plastic
  • Rechargeable
    lithium-ion battery for up to 5 hours of play

SETUP


The BoomTube box is
nicely designed and highlights many of the product’s
features.


   

Included in the box
(from the top, clockwise) are the BoomTube itself, a
nylon carrying case, ear plugs and their case, a
2.5mm to 3.5mm adapter, 2 RCA-style cables to
connect the speakers, a mini-jack to mini-jack cable
to connect the audio source, the instruction manual
and the AC adapter.

Think Outside has a
sense of humor. The sticker on the ear plug case
says: "For your neighbors"

.

   
Before you can use the BoomTube, you need to charge
it. The unit is powered from an internal (and
non-user replaceable) lithium-ion battery. Charging
is accomplished via an included AC adapter. The unit
cannot be charged while it is on. Once the unit is charged, it is time to remove the
satellite speakers and connect your audio source.
Removing the satellite speakers is very simple,
simply rotate them towards the front of the BoomTube
and they come off. Reverse this process to re-attach
them. The satellites "click" into place quite
securely and I am confident that the connection
mechanism is durable. After removing the satellites,
you need to connect them via cable back to the main
unit. This is accomplished using the included RCA
cables. Finally, you need to attach your audio
source using the included mini-jack to mini-jack
cable. A nice touch is the included 2.5mm to 3.5mm
adapter so you can use a the headset jack from a music phone or Smartphone
as the audio source.

    

The
jacks on the back of the BoomTube (from left to
right) are power, headphones, right satellite, left
satellite and audio in. Each satellite has a
color-coded RCA jack that corresponds to a jack on
the back of the BoomTube.


Unfortunately, once you get finished connecting all
the cables, you are left with quite a mess. It would
be much better if Think Outside had included retractable cables.

PRODUCT FEATURES

    First of all, the BoomTube is very sexy.
The aluminum housing is very attractive and it is
textured to resist scratches. The device has a good solid feel to it, and isn’t too heavy or too light.

The
BoomTube looks great when it is together.

   
Operation of the BoomTube is very straightforward.
Press the power button on top of the unit for a few
seconds and the BoomTube comes to life.

The
dial on the left is for volume and the one on the
right is for the subwoofer. The power button in the
center is surrounded by an LED which is green when
fully charged, orange when powered-on and blinks
orange while charging.

   
To test the sound quality, I connected my 4G iPod to
the BoomTube. All the music I used in this test were
MP3s
encoded at 320kbps variable bit rate. The good news
is that the sound coming out of the BoomTube is very
crisp and has no audible distortion. It can also get
reasonably loud. The bad news is that there is very little bass coming from the unit. This is in stark contrast
to the claims on the box which proudly state, "It’s
all about big bass. Adjust from bouncing to
booming." I tried different settings with the EQ on
the iPod and nothing really improved the bass output
even when the BoomTube’s subwoofer dial was turned
up to maximum. I did find that it was good to set
the EQ on the iPod to Treble Enhance as this helped
to clear the high range for the BoomTube.

Here
is the BoomTube with my 4G 30GB iPod. This picture
should help you get a sense of the size of the
BoomTube.

   
The main unit, which is supposed to be a subwoofer,
was putting out all of the midrange sound, while the
satellites put out the treble. I think there is a
problem with the way the crossover is set from the
factory. Treble and midrange should be coming out of
the satellites while the main unit should be
dedicated to bass. There is also no air port for the
subwoofer, and since most subwoofers have one, it makes you wonder if one would have made
any difference here.

   
To make sure that these results were not the fault
of my iPod, I connected the iPod to my computer
speakers, the Logitech z-5500. Needless to say, the iPod was not at fault. To see how the BoomTube
performed with a different audio source, I dug out
my Sony Discman portable CD player and tried that as
well. The BoomTube gave much better treble with the
portable CD player, which I expected as MP3
compression cuts out a lot of treble. Unfortunately,
the bass was not improved with the CD player.

All
of the speakers look very similar, although the
satellites have a dome in the middle.

   
Basically, if you like the kind of sound that Bose
satellite speaker systems put out, you may like
the BoomTube’s sound. As I said, the sound is very crisp and
clear. Unfortunately, like Bose computer speakers,
there is not enough depth and fullness to the music.
Many people prefer crispness to fullness, so your
ears may react differently to the sound coming from
the BoomTube.


Think Outside also includes a nice nylon carrying
case which is big enough for the BoomTube and all of
the cables with the exception of the AC adapter.
Considering that this unit is meant to be portable,
the carrying case is a great addition.

   
Oddly, despite the name BoomTube H2O1
and all the pictures of water on the box, the
BoomTube is neither waterproof nor water-resistant.
The side of the box makes note of this in small
print. As for battery life, I can agree with Think
Outside’s estimate of about 5 hours.

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HELP SUPPORT

    The included instruction
manual is very easy to read and contains enough
information to get the BoomTube up and running. I cannot imagine any additional help or support
would be needed.

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS

   
To use the
BoomTube you need to provide a source of audio. Any device
with a 3.5mm or 2.5mm mini-jack will work.

BUGS AND WISHES

   
My primary wish would be for Think Outside to
increase the bass from this unit. All the
music I tested with sounded very flat without
good bass. To be frank, I have heard more bass
from high-end ear-buds such as the excellent Shure
Ec3 which costs a lot less. Considering the price of the BoomTube, I
expect much better bass. My next wish would be
for retractable cables. Considering the
intended mobility of this product, it would be nice
to not have to deal with tying up cables or
untangling them. My final wish would be for
the BoomTube to be water-resistant. I say this
not just because of the product’s name, although it
is slightly misleading. I think that a great
use for this product could be at the beach or by the
swimming pool. With all of the various
water-resistant cases available for iPods, a
water-resistant portable speaker system would be
cool.


PROS

  • Great-looking and easy to
    use
  • Crisp,
    clear sound with no distortion even at maximum
    volume
  • Includes carrying case
  • Good battery life

CONS

  • Bass is almost undetectable
  • Requires some adjustments
    to the audio source’s EQ for best results
  • Cables
    become messy and tangled
  • A bit pricey
Value
Ease
of Use
Features

Overall

What
do these ratings mean?

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OVERALL IMPRESSION

   

The BoomTube is a great idea that falls a bit short
in execution. The unit is well-designed, cool
looking and easy to use. Unfortunately, the lack of
bass really hurts the sound quality.

If you need portable speakers that come with a
built-in battery with a great design, the BoomTube is definitely worth
considering. If you are an audiophile and sensitive
to the way your music sounds, the BoomTube is not
for you.

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