Tech-Life BeatBlock WET Weatherproof Bluetooth Speaker Review
A great quality Bluetooth speaker for a reasonable price is a rare find. Sure there are a myriad of sub $100 Bluetooth speakers out there, but they almost always sound like your smartphone speaker turned up to 11. The Tech-Life BeatBlock is the rare exception with its high quality sound, solid and robust construction and quality components. I have used the original BeatBlock and although the first unit I received was defective, Tech-Life’s excellent customer service sent me a replacement unit immediately. The original BeatBlock was a great value with excellent sound for the size and a tough rubber exoskeleton. The new BeatBlock WET weatherproof speaker takes what was right with the original, adds weatherproofing, and tunes the internals to produce even better sound for the same price as the original model.
Tech-Life is an emerging gadget company founded in Newport Beach, CA by two lifelong friends with a passion for technology and a common goal of producing high quality products with cutting edge design. The founders of Tech-Life come from extensive and complementary backgrounds in engineering, logistics, audio/video tech, and product development. They are off to a great start and we hope they continue to expand their product line.
The first thing I saw upon unboxing was that the hexagon patterns were varied in size and seemingly more three dimensional. The thicker ridges of the hexagons and around the body of the unit look to me more resilient to knocks and bumps as compared to the prior model. The WET has the same specification drivers (50mm/20Hz-20KHz/4Ohms), the same power output (2x3W) and the same 1500mAh Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery. In terms of specifications the WET model is exactly the same, but as mentioned the quality of the internal components have been stepped up and the difference is welcome.
Features & Specifications
The BeatBlock WET Speaker
The BeatBlock WET Bluetooth Speaker is a solid little brick of thumping sounds ensconced in a thick and rigid layer of protective rubber. The new BeatBlock WET is only very slightly wider and lighter than the original model measuring in at 165 mm in length, 52 mm in width, and 63.5 mm in height, with a weight of 346 g. The speaker is very nicely boxed in a slick black unit with bright red writing. The box is probably too nice to just throw out, and I have made use of mine to store some of my desktop clutter.
The front, sides, and top all have the familiar hexagon pattern, but in various sizes. The new design looks more modern and edgy. The front of the WET has the same familiar status LED and the name plate is placed slightly higher than the previous model. The speakers are very well protected and the metal grating is also almost impervious to any dings or dents due to the thick ridged honeycomb structure.
The top of the unit holds the Bluetooth connection button, and the volume control buttons. The Bluetooth button is used to pair devices, but can also pause or play media and also be used to answer calls. Tech-Life informed me that the buttons are protected from splashes and spills, but reiterated that the unit is weatherproof and not waterproof. Thus, the unit cannot be submersed in water, but can handle splashes and the like.
The left side of the unit houses the auxiliary input port, the power switch, and the microUSB charging port. I have yet to use the auxiliary input, but knowing that I always have the supplied cable in the supplied felt bag that can be used to transport the BeatBlock is assuring. The microUSB cable that is supplied is designed by default to be used in any USB 2.0 or 3.0 port, but it can be plugged into a power outlet charger that has a USB connection so long as that charger is rated at only 1 A. Plugging the microUSB cable into a charger designed for an iPad (rated at 2 A) will permanently damage the unit.
The back side of the unit is the plainest here with only a small sticker listing the basic electrical specifications of the unit. Note that the input is listed in milliamps, so you will need to be aware that 1000 mA is the same as 1 A.
The underside of the unit holds the passive bass radiator. As the two powered speakers thump away the passive bass radiator serves to enhance the bass output by slightly thumping downwards. I wish a powered speaker could have been located here, but one would very likely decrease the time between charges from around 9 hours to somewhere around 5 hours. That being said, perhaps a powered speaker facing downward could be an option for a super-sized BeatBlock WET.
Impressions and Conclusion
I am a big fan of the original BeatBlock and was very excited to hear that Tech-Life had created a successor. That being said I initially expected the obligatory bumps in specifications that routinely accompany updated product launches. Imagine Apple releasing their mid-cycle iPhone without speeding up the processor or adding a fancy new hardware functionality, would you be disappointed? In the case of the WET, it is most likely that interested consumers had never heard of the original BeatBlock and will be exceedingly pleased with the BeatBlock WET.
To test the internal component improvements I paired the original BeatBlock to one iPhone 5 and the new WET to another iPhone 5. On both phones I used the same mp3s to test audio quality by turning both BeatBlocks all the way up and setting both phones to the same 75% volume level. The differences were not substantial, but I certainly did feel as if the audio coming from the WET was superior to the original model. In addition, I would guestimate that the WET sounded perhaps 5-10 decibels louder than the original model. Overall they both sound great for the price and I am confident that the improved internals will produce a pleasing sound considering just how tiny these speakers are as compared to many larger models.
The unit really will play for about 9 hours before the power switch begins glowing red and the status light on the front of the until begins blinking red. Once the unit is nearly depleted of all charge the volume even lowered automatically to provide an audio clue in addition to a notification beep. The WET does take some time to charge up when plugged into a computer or a 1 A charger, but if you only have a PC and you are able to enable your USB ports to be on while your computer is off, you can charge the unit without leaving your computer on for an hour or so.
If you want the best sound from a Bluetooth speaker possible, then spend more money and buy a much larger unit. If you want great sound that you can use by the pool without worrying about a rogue splash nuking your substantial investment, buy the BeatBlock WET. It is honestly a great product made of high quality components with great sound and a very tough rubber exoskeleton. I liked the original model so much that I recommended to my family they grab one and it must be said that they are believers in the BeatBlock.
To conclude, do yourself a favor and bypass the familiar brand names and buy the BeatBlock WET for $99 on Amazon. At the time of this writing the BeatBlock WET has 4.5/5 stars over 190 reviews on Amazon. I was similarly impressed by the BeatBlock WET, it is just a great little speaker that pumps out tunes for up to 9 hours straight for only $99. Tech-Life has great customer service to make sure you remain a satisfied customer and they are striving to produce a product that will be a launch board for what will hopefully be an expanded line of technological gadgets. The BeatBlock WET receives the Hardware 360 Editor’s Choice award for amazing performance and a very reasonable price point.