Product Review: Scosche boomBOTTLE

Scosche introduced the boomBOTTLE last year at Interbike and it caught my attention right away.  It's a rugged IPX4 Splashproof/Weatherproof Bluetooth connectivity speaker designed to fit in a water bottle cage or cupholder.  I liked the idea of the boomBOTTLE so much that I included it as one of the 20 products in my 4-part series of posts Interbike 2013 Cool Bike Gear.

Image Credit: Scosche Industries
First of all, let me go over some of the features of the boomBOTTLE.  As mentioned above, this speaker has IPX4 Splashproof/Weatherproof construction meaning it can withstand splashing water from any direction.  It's lightweight at less than 1 pound and has a shock absorbing non-slip exterior with dust and debris protective screens around the speakers.  Bluetooth connectivity gives it a wireless range of up to 33 feet and it has a 3.5mm auxiliary input for non-Bluetooth devices.  The dual 40mm drivers and passive subwoofer omni-directional speakers deliver sound 360°.  Control music playback with the multi-function button to pause, play and skip tracks.  Phone calls can be taken while riding using it as a speakerphone.  A long lasting Lithium polymer rechargeable battery provides up to 10 hours of use.

I enjoy listening to podcasts and music while I ride but the use of earbuds can interfere with me hearing approaching vehicles or passing cyclists.  The boomBOTTLE would be a safer alternative that would let me still hear the sounds around me while listening in on my favorite podcast.

I ride a lot of gravel roads so sand, dirt and mud do end up all over me and my bike on rainy days and wet conditions.  This I thought would be a good test of the boomBOTTLE's splashproof/weatherproof IPX4 rating.  Rides in the rain and on wet roads did not affect the performance of the boomBOTTLE and it continued to deliver a rich quality sound.  The slip-resistant outer coating and screens over the speakers protected it from the the water and debris flung at it from my wheels.

After these wet rides the boomBOTTLE was good and dirty and in need of a cleaning.  This was easy, I lightly rinsed it off under the faucet to remove all of the road muck it had picked up on the ride.  A quick wipe down with a dry towel and it was like new again.

The boomBOTTLE fit nice and snug in my water bottle cage and stayed put even on washboard gravel and bumpy "No Motorized Vehicles" doubletrack.  The battery life was exceptional giving me 10+ hours of playback on a single charge.  Using it 1 to 2 hours a day, a charge seemed to last the whole week.  When the battery status reached 25% a voice prompt stated "Battery Level 25%" letting me know it would soon need a recharge.  To protect the battery when the charge is too low it would beep three times, the power down tone would sound and it would shut down.  To conserve battery it would automatically shut down after 10 minutes when there was no longer a Bluetooth signal input.  Charging the battery does take some time, usually around 3 hours, but the long battery life definitely makes up for that.  The charging status LED let me know if it was charging (red) or had reached a full charge (blue) and was ready for use.

Pairing my phone with the boomBOTTLE for the first time was very easy and I was able to do so without reading the instructions.  Once paired, when turned on connection is almost immediate and a voice prompt will state "Power On" and "Connected".  The large buttons and placement of them made it easy to adjust the volume or pause and skip a track while riding.  When turning up the volume on the boomBOTTLE it would beep once when maximum volume was reached.  During windy conditions or when riding fast (16+ mph), maximum volume was needed to hear the audio over the wind noise and was sometimes hard to hear.  To overcome this, I recommend using a product like Wind-Blox to reduce the wind noise and give a better listening experience.  Don't get me wrong, the boomBottle is loud and has good bass with rich sound but wind noise across the ears can sometimes be even louder.  Another way to direct the sound from the omni-directional speakers to better hear the audio is to place the boomBOTTLE in a bottle cage on the down tube like pictured in the photo above.  This will better point the sound toward the rider than placement in a cage on the seat tube.

Integrated Music Controls (Multi-function button)

The multi-function button (MFB) located between the up/down volume buttons has many useful controls of the paired device.  A single tap of the MFB will play or pause an audio track, while a double tap will track forward and a triple tap will track backward.  To answer a phone call and use the boomBOTTLE as a speakerphone, tap the MFB once and do the same to hang up a call.  For phones that have voice control function, hold the MFB for two seconds and release and this will access the phone's voice control feature.  These integrated music controls work nicely when riding because they allow leaving the phone in a pocket and give the ability to control it with the touch of a button.

On the bike or around the house, this compact Bluetooth speaker delivers rich, clear and loud sound whether listening to music or spoken audio podcasts.  Using it is much safer than headphones or earbuds when riding my bike because I can still hear things around me like cars, pedestrians and other cyclists.  The battery life is great and the unit's construction is durable and water resistant for rides in any weather on the road or singletrack.  I would definitely recommend the boomBOTTLE to anyone that likes to listen to music or podcasts while riding their bike.  

The Scosche boomBOTTLE retails for $129.99 and is available in a variety of colors from Scosche, Amazon and many other online retailers.

*Note:  The Scosche boomBOTTLE was paired with a Samsung Galaxy S4 via Bluetooth the duration of testing for this review.

Disclosure:  Scosche Industries provided the review sample for this article, but offered no other form of compensation for this review.

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