While there are tons of Bluetooth speakers for your smartphone, there are two big disadvantages to this kind of technology: 1) sometimes the audio cuts out, especially if you walk too far away from the speaker with your phone in your pocket, and 2) Bluetooth burns extra battery on both your phone and the speaker. So if you’re looking for a mobile speaker that does away with both of these concerns, check out the GoalZero RockOut2.
This portable speaker connects to your mobile phone or media player the old fashioned way – using a 3.5mm stereo plug. This ensures a high quality audio signal without interruption, and you can leave Bluetooth turned off on your phone too. The RockOut2 acts as both a speaker and a carrying case for your phone, with a hidden interior compartment for you to keep your phone in.
The case of the RockOut2 is made from the same sort of durable nylon you’d find on a rugged backpack. This material does a fine job keeping your phone safe from occasional splashes or even a bit of rain. Keep in mind that the case is specified as “water resistant”, so you probably don’t want to bring it in the swimming pool. Measuring in at 7″ wide x 3.75″ high x 2.5″ deep, it’s portable enough to keep in your backpack or suitcase for easy travel. It’s also got a hookable elastic cord on the back that makes it easy to lash it to the outside of a bag or other objects.
Inside the zippered case, you’ll find a 3.5mm plug for connecting your phone and a USB port for recharging the RockOut2’s internal battery pack. There’s also a jack for chaining multiple speakers together to a single input device. Just plug your phone in, slip it into the netting and zip it back up. The phone compartment is big enough to hold most phones with screens up to about 5 inches. My iPhone 5 and HTC One fit just fine, but I tried to fit my Optimus G Pro 5.5″ phablet inside and it was just a little too big with the audio connector attached.
On the face of the speaker, you’ll find controls for skipping back or forth between tracks, pause/play and volume. This comes in handy of course, because your phone’s screen will be hidden inside of the RockOut2’s case most of the time.
The RockOut2 features stereo full-range drivers, each kicking out up to 3 watts of sound. Frequency response is 100Hz to 20KHz, but I found that bass response was plentiful for a device of its size. In my experience with the RockOut2, I found the sound quality to be quite pleasant, without any noticeable distortion through the highest volume levels. It’s not going to fill a large room, but it’s clean and plenty for listening with a couple of friends sitting on the beach or around the campfire.
Battery life is exceptional – providing up to 20 hours of playback on a 3 hour charge. I actually left mine sitting on a shelf for about two weeks without any use and it worked just fine without any noticeable loss of power. GoalZero claims that you can juice it up in just two hours using their Nomad 7 solar panel, assuming you have enough sun, but I wasn’t able to test this claim.
Overall, I’m impressed with this little speaker. It offers rugged styling, above average sound quality, good portability, and excellent battery life. If you’re looking for an alternative to battery-draining wireless devices, then you’ll definitely want to consider the RockOut2. GoalZero sells the RockOut2 for $59.99(USD) and it’s available now in a variety of colors.