The Polk Boom Bit advertises itself (okay, technically I suppose the company and advertisers do the ads, not the item itself, but you know what I mean) as a safe alternative to headphones. It’s compact, clips easily onto your clothing, and allows you to create your own little musical bubble that still allows you to be aware of the world around you. And indeed, if you’re running–and need to be able to listen to music to tolerate the fact that you’re doing so—it does the job well. I actually went for a run with this thing, and have been using it in other contexts, and here’s what I’ve learned about it.
- It connects rather easily via Bluetooth. Just follow the standard Bluetooth connection procedures and you’re in business. Just remember to turn on the Boom Bit first (by concurrently pressing the volume up and down buttons).
- Charging is a breeze. The device comes pre-juiced, so I was able to open the package and get started, which was cool (except that I lost my excuse not to run). And then, to charge, you just pull away a cover and plug the device into a USB adapter. The cover just stays out of the way while still being attached, so you’re not worried about losing it. Another little perk.
- It clips rather unobtrusively to your shirt. As I ran, it was probably the least annoying thing about the experience (did I mention I’m not much of a runner?). The only thing better was being done running.
- Volume control is best done through your phone. I tried using the volume up and down buttons, but even if I was able to adjust the sound, it was minimal at best, and usually I just heard the little sound that devices make to let you know you’re connected via Bluetooth. Then I used the music player app’s volume control, and all was easy peasy lemon squeezy.
- Forget the little personal bubble of sound, I could probably listen to music while mowing the lawn or using a leaf blower. Seriously, for a little device this small, the sound quality is quite good. It sure packs a wallop. To the point that I felt compelled to pause the music while I crossed paths with others, just in case they didn’t want to interrupt their stroll around the lake with a call to “Rise Up!” Basically, based on my amateur tests, it could get as loud as my phone, but more conveniently.
- Speakerphone functionality is built-in. So as an added bonus, you can still take calls. That said, given how loud it can get, this may not be the best perk if you haven’t called your mother in a while and don’t need others to witness you shriveling into an ashamed, ungrateful child in public.
The Polk Boom Bit is small and convenient, and it offers good quality sound. That said, I think the company may be missing out on a great opportunity by not pointing out all the other great uses for this device:
- Halloween: Hide it on your front porch, a little distance from your door, and wait inside. When someone approaches, hit play. Somewhere behind them, a sound will start playing, but if they turn around, they won’t see some store-bought zombie or a person in costume. No, the source of the sound will be undetectable. Bwa ha ha! Stop and start it based on their reaction. Even at other times of the year, my husband and I have talked about piping music on the front porch, but without an outlet out front, it’s been hard to come up with a reasonable, cheap solution. This can do the trick.
- Wake up call: When I was growing up, my parents’ house had an intercom system. Weekend mornings, my dad would sneak into the room while we were sleeping, turn up the volume, then return downstairs to start playing annoying music really loud (And FYI, at seven o’clock on a Saturday, it doesn’t really matter what the music was; it was all annoying). Much as I hated it growing up, I can totally appreciate the joy he felt at pulling this prank. And so, for him, I propose that this is entirely possible to replicate this activity even without an intercom system. Just sneak this under your kid’s pillow or on his/her nightstand, then slip out of the room and hit play. The Bluetooth connection seems to be pretty strong, as I was able to control it from two or three rooms away. It would be worth playing with to find out just how far.
- By now, I shouldn’t even have to say the words, but I will. April Fool’s Day. I’m not going to make this totally easy on you. No, you have to do some of the work. Hint: think decoy detonator.
- Dance practice: Don’t have a boom box, and the sound coming from on your phone sitting on the table off to the side not good enough? This will do the trick. Great for dancing while cooking, too, in case you were wondering.
- I bet this is totally programmable, though I haven’t tried it out yet. Motion-sensor reminders for your kids. Set one by the bathroom door, and when they walk out, remind them to brush their teeth or wash their hands or whatever. There’s plenty of programming kits out there (LittleBits, Arduino, etc.) that I’m sure could be triggered. The programming, of course, would be through the phone, or iPad, or whatever handheld you do your device programming in, but you could then enhance it with the Boom Bit.
- Science Fair: Okay, I totally haven’t figured out how this works into science fair, but I’m sure it could somehow make the event more interesting. Maybe tied to #5, I don’t know exactly.
- Set the mood: Having a party? People entering the building for a play? Got a school event? Music makes everything better. At my kids’ Montessori school, the previous head of school used to have classical music playing on a boom box for the children to hear as they entered the building (the new one might too, but my kids take the bus now, so I have no clue what drop-off is like anymore). They could play the music outside, without having to invest in an outdoor speaker system. This can easily be protected from the elements while piping loud-enough music.
All in all, in case you haven’t figured it out yet, I like the Polk Boom Bit. It’s a penny under $30, so it falls within the price range of other portable Bluetooth speakers. Worth considering come holiday shopping time.
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Disclaimer: GeekMom received this product for review purposes, but all opinions are my own.