$23 Roker Sound Cube Portable Bluetooth Speaker by Donald Burr

Roker Sound cube looks exactly like a jam box, with textured sreen edges made of parallelogramsRoker®Sound Cube Portable Wireless Bluetooth Stereo Speaker review
Link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00H3JTT30/?tag=otakunocast-20

The problem to be solved

  • I like to listen to podcasts while doing chores, relaxing in the poul, etc.
  • iPhone 5 has a fairly loud speaker, but it’s not quite loud enough to cut through the noise when doing certain chores (washing dishes, laundry, yard work, etc.)
  • Needed an external wireless speaker, because I tend to need to remain mobile while doing chores, so can’t be tied down by a wire.
  • In the case of the pool, I have a waterproof case for it, but you can’t hear the speaker through the case, meaning you have to wear earbuds. I know they have waterproof earbuds but I’d just rather use a speaker.
  • There are a plethora of Bluetooth speakers on the market. Prices have come down a lot, and decent ones can be had for around $100. Unfortunately that’s a bit over my price range at the moment.
  • While browsing Amazon I found these Roker speakers at $22.99, and since they were Amazon (i.e. no-hassles return policy) I figured I’d roll the dice.


Describing the unit

  • This is clearly a ripoff of the Jawbone Jambox Mini
  • Almost identical styling, even down to the box it comes in
  • Same general size and shape as the Jambox Mini
  • Square, about 6″ x 2″ x 1.5″, weighs 8 oz.
  • Top and bottom are made of a rubber-like material
  • Speaker grille is metallic
  • On the top are controls for previous, play/pause, next, and phone
  • On the right are the power switch, mini USB connector (used for charging only,) an Aux In jack, and what looks to be a Micro SD card slot
  • Red and blue LEDs to indicate the status (power, pairing mode, etc.)

Features

  • Bluetooth 3.0 + EDR, up to 33 feet range
  • Built-in 800 mAh LiIon battery
  • two 40mm speakers, total 6W
  • Has an Aux in port, which means you can use it as speakers for other devices (including your laptop, etc.)
  • Supposedly it can play MP3 files on a Micro SD card that you insert into the slot, but I didn’t have a chance to test that feature

Pros

  • Build quality is surprisingly pretty good
  • Feels solid, doesn’t creak when you squeeze it, etc.
  • Pairing couldn’t be easier. Turn it on, a voice announces pairing mode, open Bluetooth on your device, and you’re done.
  • Amazingly good sound quality
  • Clear, not mushy
  • Can get really loud without noticeable distortion
  • Decent battery life. Got about 4 hrs. Takes about 3 hrs to charge using an iPhone AC adapter.
  • Comes with all the cables you need (mini USB to regular USB, and 1/8″ aux audio cable)
  • Price! (You get a lot for only $22.99)

Cons (maybe)

  • Although the sound quality is good, there are limitations
  • Lack of stereo separation. Two speakers, but they are close together, so you don’t get effective stereo separation.
  • Weak bass – If you’re getting these just for music, or if you like bass-heavy music, this is probably not for you
  • For my use case (mostly podcasts/audiobooks with some music) the sound quality is quite acceptable.
  • Poor speakerphone sound quality
  • Listening to the other caller sounds okay
  • However my voice comes out somewhat muffled and hard to understand
  • Not a deal breaker for me, since it’s not really what I intend to use this item for.
  • Not dust/waterproof
  • Range
    • Advertised range is “up to 33 feet”
    • In my testing I have found only about 10-15 ft, and that’s outdoors, no obstacles, etc., before Bluetooth started cutting out
    • But my iPhone was in my pocket, and since we humans are “ugly giant bags of mostly water” (Star Trek reference!) I was probably blocking some of the signal
    • 10-15 ft is more than enough for my use case, so I’m okay with that
  • “Okay” battery life
    • Amazon description lists two battery lives, 4 hours and 8 hours
    • The actual battery life was about 4 hours, so maybe a typo?
    • Seems to discharge very quickly, i.e. if you leave it off its charger, but not use it, it will still discharge at a fairly quick rate, requiring you to plug it in and recharge it.
    • Given my needs and the low cost of the unit, these are acceptable to me, but may not be for you.
    • Less than stellar On-device battery indicator
    • There is no on-device battery indicator, only a voice that comes on when the battery is low
    • Bluetooth battery indicator: It sends battery life information over Bluetooth, which appears as a very tiny battery bar next to the Bluetooth icon on iOS devices.This is very unreliable; sometimes it appears, sometimes it doesn’t, sometimes it shows bogus values (i.e. almost empty when I in fact just charged up the unit)
  • Flashing blue light
    • Some reviewers found it annoying; I didn’t
    • One reviewer said that it is annoying when being used in a car at night; I don’t drive so I wouldn’t know about that.
    • Another said it makes it impossible to use in a bedroom. I don’t really see that as being a problem, since I would very rarely, if ever, use it in this kind of situation.
    • Lady’s voice announcing “In pairing mode”, “pairing successful,” etc.

    • Some reviewers found it annoying; I didn’t.
    • It is awfully loud though!
    • This is something that only happens once when you first pair it, and once every time you turn on the speaker, so no big deal.
  • Can only be paired/used with one device at a time
  • No way of triggering voice control/voice dialing/Siri/etc.
    • Phone button can only answer, reject, redial
  • Does not come with a power adapter
    • Use your Mac (slower), or your iPhone/iPad charger (faster)
    • Takes about 3 hours to charge from empty using a AC adapter
  • When starting playback, the first second or two of audio gets cut off, but that might be a Bluetooth thing
  • But bear this in mind when reviewing these cons: the price is only $22.99!
  • The Verdict

    • Very good performance.
    • A few cons but not deal breakers, especially considering the price of the unit.
    • A definite Buy!

    4 thoughts on “$23 Roker Sound Cube Portable Bluetooth Speaker by Donald Burr

    1. […] $23 Roker Sound Cube Portable Bluetooth Speaker by Donald Burr […]

    2. daniel - November 11, 2014

      Help I unboxed it and plugged it in to ps4 to charge and its not working what do I do

    3. Bluetooth Speaker - January 8, 2015

      This is a good information about Wireless Bluetooth Stereo Speaker. A speaker should really be about the audio quality.

    4. Vince Tylman - June 10, 2015

      My biggest complaint is that the unit does not come with a user manual. I’ve tried searching the net, looking for a PDF user manual, but to no avail. (Actually, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure it out!) Other than that, I’m totally satisfied; keep two, one on charger and have given four away as gifts. Definitely worth the money.

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