In this ever burgeoning digital age, we as a society have become almost 100% dependent on technology. Most of us are incapable of leaving our homes without some form of technology on our person. This need and necessity we have for tech and gadgets drives our innovation as a people. As our needs grow, so does our technology.
With the advent of the MP3, portable music has become a mainstay. These days, we just load our music on our phone and go. But what if you want to take the music outdoors? The real outdoors. The elements can pose quite a problem for your pricey phone. On top of that, what if you want others to be able to hear your music? A phone is not going to have the sound capabilities to meet this need for you. Thankfully, a company in China that goes by the name, “NatulaRays,” has developed and offers a solution for you. They call it the “NatulaRays Outdoor Bluetooth Ultra-Portable Speaker.”
Product Size: 7.4″ x 2″x 2″
Bluetooth Compliance: Bluetooth V3.0
Playback time: 8-9 hours
Charging time: 3 hours
Battery: 3.7V/400 MAH
Connection range: up to 30 feet
Frequency Response: 80Hz – 20KHz
Voice Distortion: 5%
Output Power: 3W
Net Weight: 2.3 ounces
Water resistance level: IPX5
The NaturalRay’s speaker is one of the more bizarre looking devices I’ve had the opportunity to lay my eyes on. The speaker itself is housed in a spherical, rubber coated shell with a stainless steel speaker grill on the front. Behind this sphere is a rubber tail with a loop on the end, that you can use to hang or attach the speaker to objects with.
The rubber that houses the speaker’s internals has a very smooth, soft feel that is pleasing to the touch. Despite how soft and pleasant it may feel, you also get the sense that this rubber can take a beating without any compromise in its structural integrity.
Under a small rubber cover, you will find a micro USB port used for charging the speaker, as well as a micro SD card slot that allows you to play MP3 files directly from an SD card, eliminating the need for connecting the speaker to a Bluetooth device.
On the top of the speaker (well, what could be considered the top, I guess) are three function keys. The two outside keys are for volume up, volume down, and are also used to skip tracks. The middle key is for play/pause functionality. The play/pause key also acts as the speaker’s on/off switch. Because this speaker has no display of any kind, NatulaRays has placed a blue LED in the base of its tail that will illuminate when you have successfully paired the speaker with a Bluetooth device. NatulaRays has also designed this speaker to automatically detect what mode it should be in, be it SD card mode, Bluetooth, Aux, etc. By default, the speaker is in Bluetooth pairing mode when you power it on.
It’s all well and nice that a product looks good, but the real question is: “Does it work?” The answer is: YES!
On the Bluetooth side of things, the NatulaRays speaker was solid. Other than the occasional stutter (which I’ve found to be normal with most Bluetooth devices), the speaker stayed paired with my devices, even at great distances, with no issues.
Sound wise, the NatulaRays speaker is decent. It’s not anything to write home about, but for a speaker this small and this cheap, it sounds great. You won’t notice a great deal of punch in the sound this speaker produces, but it has the ability to play very loudly without a great deal of distortion. The highs, mids, and lows are pretty balanced with each other. You will find that the Bass this speaker produces is quite weak, but it’s easy to overlook when you consider what this device is designed for and how inexpensive it is. For a speaker that is this small, and this cheap, I have a hard time finding something to complain about with the sound.
What this speaker lacks in sound, it makes up for in sheer durability. NatulaRays claims that this device is water and shock proof. To be totally honest, I had zero confidence in this speaker surviving a dunk test. Thankfully, I was very, very wrong.
When it came to water, I put this speaker through its paces. My first test involved immersing the speaker in a 16oz cup of water for 60 seconds while the speaker was on and playing music. To my surprise, this didn’t kill it. Even while immersed in water, the speaker continued to play music with very little interference in its Bluetooth connection with my tablet. After removing the speaker from the water, it continued to play without a hitch and with no further hiccups in the Bluetooth connection.
I now had to take things to the next level. Would this speaker survive a shower? Surely not. I had to find out. I hanged the speaker from my shower head, connected it to my tablet, started blasting Queen over Spotify, and then commenced with taking a shower. It survived. This $30 speaker actually survived a 15 minute shower. Not only that, I let it play for 30 more minutes after the shower and it never skipped a beat. I was absolutely blown away.
While not as exciting as the water tests, I also had resounding success with my drop tests. With the speaker playing music, I raised it above my head and dropped it two times onto my kitchen floor. That’s a drop of over six feet. During and after both drops, the speaker never once skipped or stuttered.
My next test was to literally just throw the speaker at a wall. Same result. It kept playing. Didn’t skip.
I was flabbergasted at how well this little $30 speaker performed. While it may not have the greatest sound quality, it’s not terrible by any stretch, and this speaker is capable of being quite loud. Above all of that, this thing can survive water immersion, a shower, six foot drops, and even being thrown against a wall. Something this durable for $30, with decent sound, is a steal! The NatulaRays Outdoor Bluetooth Speaker is that steal.