Ultimate Ears just announced a pair of new portable speakers with hands-free Alexa capabilities that easily dethrone the Amazon Tap to become the best portable Alexa speaker. The new UE Blast and UE Megablast are essentially updated versions of the great sounding and very popular UE Boom and UE Megaboom speakers, but with built-in WiFi and far-field microphones to work with Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant.
Ultimate Ears makes some of the best sounding portable speakers and the new Blast and Megablast are sure to be no exception. The main difference between the two models is the size, with the UE Megablast being the larger of the two speakers, which translates into a louder speaker. Both have built-in batteries, but the larger speaker is rated at 16-hours, with the smaller UE Blast rated at 12-hours of battery life.
Both models are rugged and made to take abuse. They’re IP67 rated, which means they can be completely submerged in 1 meter of water for 30 minutes. They can be connected to via Bluetooth, but you’ll probably want to take advantage of their built-in WiFi capabilities and use Alexa.
Ultimate Ears recently updated their Boom and Megaboom speakers to work with Alexa, but that was more of a hack than anything because they still require a phone to be connected for data and you must press a button to speak to Alexa. Since the new Blast and Megablast speakers were designed with Alexa in mind from the beginning, they can function and play music completely independently without needing a phone, just like the Amazon Tap. The built-in array of far-field microphones gives you hands-free control of the speakers, just like Amazon’s line of Echo devices.
At launch, the Blast and Megablast can play music from Amazon Music (including Prime Music and Music Unlimited), iHeartRadio, and TuneIn. Support for Spotify, Pandora, and Deezer will be added soon. Most of Alexa’s capabilities are available through these speakers, like smart home control and the thousands of Alexa skills, but some of the Echo-only features, like calling and messages, are not available.
The UE Blast is available to pre-order today for $229.99 and the UE Megablast can be pre-ordered for $299.99. The charging dock is not included but can be purchased for an additional $40. Both sizes are available in black, blue, white, and red, with green and yellow being made available at a later date. The speakers will be released on October 29th.