The ECOXGEAR ECOXBT arrived at GearGuide HQ several months ago. We popped it out of its pretty standard retail packaging and were taken by the product’s somewhat unorthodox design. It reminded me of those oversized Dewalt boom boxes targeted at the construction trade with large handles and sporty yellow-orange cosmetics.
As Bluetooth speakers go, the ECOXGEAR ECOXBT represents the beefier end of the spectrum. Whereas most consumer audio manufacturers go for sleek tubes and lightweight materials, ECOXGEAR builds the ECOXBT from heavy-duty plastics. And they don’t stop there. The ECOXBT is sheathed in a thick rubberized casing that wraps around the outside of the product and forms the two large handles. All this protection comes with a fairly substantial weight penalty and the ECOXBT comes in at a very healthy 1.5 pounds.
With all that weight, you’d never expect ECOXGEAR’s claim that the ECOXBT floats to be even remotely true. But it is. The product floats easily, able to bob along and still play away. Just don’t turn it speaker side down or all you’ll get is a muffled soundtrack. The product is rated at an IPX7 which means it can be submersed in water up to one meter deep. We found the seals on the rear hatch (protecting the mini jack and USB connector) didn’t quite keep the water out of our test unit, but that didn’t seem to matter. We just wiped the moisture out and off the ECOXBT and it continued to play uninterrupted.
Dimensions: 4 in x 9 in x 2.8 in
Weight: 1.5 lbs
Water resistance rating: IPX7
The ECOXBT paired easily with a range of both Android and iOS devices including iPods, iPads and Motorola phones. We were unsuccessful at pairing the product with a Bluetooth-equipped Windows 8 PC. The PC could see it but was unable to pair after numerous attempts. It’s a bummer but not a deal breaker for us.
Controls are simple. Power and Bluetooth, volume and speaker-phone answer buttons across the top. Press and hold the Bluetooth button until the Bluetooth symbol flashes to start pairing. Once your target device discovers the unit, select ECOXGEAR and you’re off and running. Our test iPad found the product almost instantaneously.
Of the two products we tested (including the RuggedTec RoqBloq), the ECOXGEAR ECOXBT produced the best sound quality (to our ears anyway). The two-speaker design delivered richer tones and deeper bass. We did notice some low-end hiss especially connected via the mini jack but that wasn’t evident with the volume up.
Bluetooth range was also superior. We were able to routinely move our Apple devices out to 25-30 feet away from the ECOXBT and still get uninterrupted music play.
Well done ECOXGEAR. The robusto ECOXBT more than meets the test for an outdoor-oriented Bluetooth speaker. The product delivers superior range and good audio quality. It’s rugged, reliable, fully waterproof and it floats. Nice.