Technology Tuesday: Plug It, Stick It, Rock It: Boombox

I used to hate Mark Cuban for really no good reason at all. Probably just because he was an easy target fueled by the incessant media stories about him. Despite my disdain for Cuban, I finally tuned into the TV series Shark Tank this summer for the first time. This reality show has inventors pitching ideas to the “Sharks” in the hopes that they give the investment capital needed to get their idea or company off the ground. There were a handful of pretty cool ideas and Cuban won me over with his humor and ability to spot a great idea. I was curious if any of these projects ever “made it.” So I was pretty amused strolling a Chicago-area mall this past Black Friday when I saw one of the Shark Tank products for sale at a kiosk. The Boombox had come to market!

[Boombox comes in several colors]

What exactly is it?

It is a portable speaker “system” that runs on either AAA batteries or a provided USB power supply to turn other objects into speakers. A sticky pad on a cord can be affixed to file cabinets, tissue boxes, coffee cups and scores of other objects. Hollow seems to work best while solid seems to not work well at all.

Missed the Shark Tank episode and have no idea what the prior paragraph means? Take a quick peek at this video I made using one of my seasonal favorite songs as a listening example.

[Boombox with Blues Traveler's Christmas]

What exactly is it not?

The sound is actually pretty impressive for what it is and how it is accomplished. Bass can get pretty full, volume can get quite loud and you can fill a small room relatively well. Despite all that, it is not high fidelity or something you will want to do any critical listening with. Obviously it is not stereo and you won’t be picking up any nuances or have any need for lossless sources. So the Boombox is not a replacement for desktop speakers or even mediocre earbuds or headphones.

So…not really a replacement for desktop speakers or headphones, then when WOULD I use this?

Good question. This gadget definitely isn’t perfect for everyone. But in some instances, it may make perfect sense and be a decent thing to get:

  • Gadget Lovers: Just another thing to play around with, have fun, and show to your friends
  • Would be cool to keep in your car and then when someone has something to play on a tablet, phone or mobile device, the entire car load can easily listen in. Definitely blows away any built in speaker. But then again: you need to have any empty cup, box or some other object to stick it to.
  • Periodically, I want my laptop much louder. For example, watching Slingbox and a sports event or a funny YouTube video I just came across. If I am out and around, the Boombox would be cool so everyone can listen in without needing to get right next to the speaker.
  • Kids would have a blast with this and be perfect for them. The sound is good enough to listen to any pop music and no need to invest in desktop speakers.

Bottom Line & Price & Where-to-buy
Boombox is very cool and the sound is surprisingly good. While it will not replace desktop speakers and even cheap headphones will give better sound, Boombox is certainly high enough quality to enjoy music but much better for web videos, sports, talk, movies and situations where you just need to hear the audio and are not really worried about fidelity. Half-toy/ half-audio device, the Boombox is very cool if you can fetch it for a decent price.

I found it for about $25 at a kiosk in a mall. I think that’s a pretty decent price point and reasonable for what you get. However, I’ve seen these gadgets online in a couple of different form factors in prices ranging as high as $60. I would never spend anywhere near $60 for this as the money would be better spent on a down payment towards something with outrageously good portable audio quality like the Jambox.

Getting details on manufacturer or official sellers is difficult. I’ve seen this product name listed as everything from RockIt Boombox to Boombx to Boomb(())x. Not really sure why so many different names, perhaps it is being licensed to different people to sell. Google is your friend, if you want to hunt this down, I’m sure you’ll find it.

Or just keep your eyes open when you are at the mall. Who knows? You might just bump into a kiosk selling this pretty sweet stocking stuffer!
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12 thoughts on “Technology Tuesday: Plug It, Stick It, Rock It: Boombox

  1. MarleyPhish Reply

    Hi, I just want to chime in that I LOVE the Technology Tuesday articles. I work in the technology field and play in the music world. It’s nice to combine the two here weekly.

    Keep up the great work!

  2. Parker Harrington Reply

    Thanks MarleyPhish!

    And I remembered another perfect use for this gadget that I meant to write about but forgot: camping, festivals and other outdoor gatherings like that.

    You certainly don’t want to bring expensive speakers, but a cardboard box, or gas can, or supply bucket of some sort that you already brought along would make a perfect speaker without adding the risk of damage or additional items to pack.

  3. tallboycan Reply

    When I saw the title of this post I was hoping it was about a proper boombox-type portable stereo. I’ve been looking for a high quality boombox with good sound (and ipod dock and am/fm radio)to use in my yard and anywhere else outdoors and they don’t seem to exist anymore. I find this really surprising since it seems the technological gods have aligned perfectly for a kick-ass boombox to exist: ipods are ubiquitous, the technology for built-in rechargeable battery is outstanding and we get great sound out of smaller and smaller speakers. So why can’t I spend $250 and get a portable radio that’ll annoy the hell out of my neighbors?

    What I find even more alarming is that communal music listening experiences revolving around such devices no longer exist. When I was growing up in the late 80s, whenever there was a group of teenagers gathered at least one person had a radio and we rocked out man. A few months ago I was at a skatepark and saw 3 or 4 teenage buddies roll up and start skating. They all had their respective earbuds in and they skated in silence. That’s just…weird. Earbuds are wack (I told you I grew up in the 80s…)

    • kaikai'z mama Reply

      tallboycan says…check out ion block rocker..this thing is the shizzle..it’ll annoy wake your neighbors for sure…Sams Club sells it for about $150 if you can get it while in-stock….just and fyi.i have two of em!!

  4. Parker Harrington Reply

    @tallboycan:

    Most excellent point! Same here with the communal listening as kids…always part of the social fabric and something that was expected. Though the boomboxes did pretty quickly give way to to “Walkmen” and other portable devices by the end of the 80′s.

    Nevertheless: KEEP YOUR EYES PEELED HERE. In the next couple of weeks I will be reviewing an item that is EXACTLY what you are looking for!

    thanks for the comment.

  5. tallboycan Reply

    OK, Parker. My eyes will be peeled.

  6. steve Reply

    One of my co-workers bought one up here in Toronto during the summer. He brought it in the other day for me to listen to and I attached it to a coffee cup. I was surprised at the sound quality and how loud it actually got. The only thing I didn’t like was having to wind the wires back up and if not done properly, you have to do it again which wasn’t an easy task the first few times.

  7. Steve Reply

    This thing is a knock off. The real company on Shark Tank was called OrigAudio and their product is called the “rock-It” in fact they have a new one out that kills this old model. check em out on http://www.origaudio.com

  8. parker Reply

    Steve:

    Well, I guess that’s exactly what one of the Sharks brought up as an issue. These guys licensed the patent to some Japanese company who can use it however they want. The sign at the kiosk said, “As Seen on Shark Tank”. So I suppose they meant the concept and not the company.

    Origaudio seems to keep changing prototype, design and marketing further confusing the market.

    Thanks for the head’s up.

  9. Matt Reply

    Hey Guys just wanted to let you know the company that was on Shark tank is actually called “OrigAudio” Boombox is not the same company although they are selling the same technology.

  10. Matt Perry Reply

    Another great product is made by Mighty Dwarf (http://www.mightydwarf.com) there are several options but the Bluetooth portable vibration speaker called the BlueII is my favorite.

    The product you reviewed is actually a copy of the original or maybe the “original” is a copy of the Boombox bottom line is that the claim of inventing the product is overstated.

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