We’ve taken a close look at two Bluetooth speakers recently, the Logitech UE Boom and Logitech UE Boombox, and really enjoyed testing them both out. Both speakers were versatile with good battery life and ruggedness but neither could handle a week-long camping trip without running flat-out of power. After seeing so many solar-powered devices at the last International CES I thought there must be something out there that could keep a group entertained for a week without electricity and without having to lug a giant panel or generator into the woods.
I was correct– the Eton rukus XL speaker was just the device to keep our campsite full of music for a trip without a power outlet. Featuring specifications similar to the UE Boombox– 22 watts of power, two woofers and four passive radiators as well as a giant solar panel that also makes up the rear of the device when folded this speaker was sure to keep us rocking through the week.
Not only did it keep us entertained but it also kept our entire group’s cell phones charged through the trip as well. Featuring a powered USB port and an auxiliary input it makes up for the phone-battery-killing bluetooth’s drain issues as long as the sun is out.
Initially I was skeptical. I’ve had a set of solar panels back when I had a second generation iPod and they were ok if you wanted to wait all day to get another hour of music in. The panel the rukus XL features however really kept the battery topped up. With it sitting in the sun all day it was able to both keep the battery level topped up while playing at low volume as well as keep a phone charging. It really worked.
Unfortunately the sound quality wasn’t as great as the UE speakers. That’s not to say it was bad– but it just wasn’t great. If you aren’t going to be able to take advantage of the outdoorsy and rugged capabilities you might be better off getting something else. If however you want to have a good speaker that can travel anywhere with you, keep your phone charged, and play music with a very good bluetooth range, the Eton rukus XL is the system you want. I’ve kept it sitting on my boat in a large clear Rubbermaid and every time I’ve made it out to my boat its battery has been full and ready to start playing. For the outdoorsman it can’t be beat.