Our very kind friends at MobileFun.co.uk have sent us another product to review. This is another Bluetooth speaker like the SoundWave I reviewed several months ago. When I saw a picture of it, I thought that the size wouldn’t compare to the depth of sound which came from the SoundWave. I was wrong…
Gum Rock Bluetooth Speaker:
The Gum Rock Bluetooth Speaker comes in a tiny box, which almost disappoints. Inside the box is the speaker, instructions and a Mini USB cable. The outer rubber casing and suction cup is a clever design which allows you to stick the speaker on any smooth surface: Glass, table top, back of a phone, back of a laptop, and even the back of a Google Nexus 7 (2012 version) making it a cool and useful accessory for the tablet, which has a slightly rubberised and dimpled surface for grip. This allows you to sand the device in either a landscape or portrait mode and watch a film without having to hold it, or use the device speakers. In fact, you’ll find yourself trying all sorts of surfaces to stick the speaker to, it’s quite addictive. I even found I could walk around with it sucked on to my forehead. Whilst this is not advised outside, if you want to listen to music whilst doing housework and not loosing volume of a speaker stuck in one room, The Gum Rock Bluetooth Speaker is ideal.
Don’t let this small size fool you into thinking that the sound will be all tinny, with no depth or base. When turning it on, the speaker will give a beep to let you know that it’s has switched on (as well as flashing a blue light on the base in quick repetition). This is the first clue as to what quality speaker it is. I was most impressed at how well it blasted out some AC-DC, how well it coped with the undulation tones of Rachmaninov, and the swinging beat of Hugh Laurie in his first album. In fact, I found that the Gum Rock Bluetooth speaker did a great job of reproducing any kind of music in my large library. Even watching a film with sounds as varied and fast-moving as Transformers 3, the Gum Rock Bluetooth Speaker coped to such a high standard, my wife thought the sound was coming from the TV.
The box claims that you can link several together to get even better sound, but no where in the instructions does it say how to do this. Whether it’s by a Bluetooth profile or not, I don’t know, but there is nothing in the instructions to suggest how, which is a shame.
Build and design:
At 59mm (2.3 inches) high and ~ 67mm (2.6 inches) wide, it’s not exactly a large speaker (which makes the sound it reproduces all the more impressive). It also only weighs 90g (3.17 ounces), so it’s won’t be a bane to carry around. My, in fact, commented that she could easily place it in her hand bag and carry it around with her.
The rubberised cover will protect from small bumps and falls, as well as allow you to suck it to any flat and smooth surface. The instruction manual says that the Gum Rock Bluetooth Speaker is waterproof, thanks to its rubber case (although it does say only the case, not the speaker internals). I’m not sure I’d want to take it in the shower with me, but maybe sitting on the toilet on the other side of the curtain would be fine, as the case will protect it from any splashes that could stray its way. The device we got to test is bright orange, but if orange isn’t to your liking, then you can pick from black, blue or green.
The Gum Rock Bluetooth Speaker is a very simple speaker to use. When its first turned on, it will search for a Bluetooth device. Once connected – the LED in the base will flash at a slower speed – you can play away to your heart’s content. There are three buttons on the device, volume up, play/pause and volume down. On the reverse side, a dust cap conceals the power switch and the Mini USB plug which is used for charging. When charging, the LED will turn solid red. Once fully charged, it will turn blue.
Not only is this a great speaker, but it also has a microphone, meaning it can be used as a hands free device. The microphone is on the side of the bulb, just bellow the rubber. In my tests, using it as a microphone for my MacBook Air and recording a video to listen to the sound input, the results weren’t mind-blowing. I could hear myself, but it was in no way as if I was “in the room”. This may be where the device falls down a little. I think the hands free was more of an ad on, rather than one of the main features. It will be handy if someone calls you whilst you’re listening to music, but I wouldn’t rely on it as my sole hands free. It would be useful if, for example, you’re using the speaker to listen to a podcast or playlist in the car (rather than use a much more expensive Bluetooth/radio transmitter), and someone calls you. You would press the play/pause button to answer the call and then use the same button to hang up. With the suction cup design you could easily stick the speaker to the windscreen above the steering wheel (just be careful it doesn’t fall off whilst you’re driving) and you should be heard over the road noise (although I haven’t tested this out.
At £16.99 ($26.34/€19.88), this is unbeatable value for such a small, portable speaker which has surprising sound reproduction and a cleaver design which allows it to be used in lots of locations both in and around the house. It may not be the best hands free on the market, but it’s a welcome addition on top of the stunning sound and portability.
- Small design
- Clever use of suction cup to stick to flat surfaces
- Good value
- Rubber case allows for some impact protection and splash resistance
- Range of colours from funky orange to serious black
- Rechargeable using mini USB
- Not the best hands free device, but a welcome addition
- Sparse instructions
- No instructions on how to link speakers together
- No 3.5mm jack, so only Bluetooth devices can use it.