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Review: Eton’s Rugged Rukus solar-powered Bluetooth speaker

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One of the most common items we tend to get in the mail around here are Bluetooth speakers. There is a such an incredible market out there for these and you have more to pick from than you do candy in candy store. Small speakers, giant speakers, stationary and mobile. You have water proof, you have pocket size and some that are built into some of the strangest products. What about solar-powered though?

Eton is a manufacturer of all sorts of things chargeable and attention has been growing towards their Bluetooth speakers over the last year or so–the Rugged Rukus (what we will be discussing today) and the Rukus Xtreme. Now there are a lot of portable solar solutions out there for charging your gadgets, but these speakers have it all built in. Nothing extra to drag around; no cords or anything else in the mix. You simply grab the speaker and run. Picnic in the mountains or relaxing on the beach? Toss it down next to you and listen to some of your favorite tracks while you do it.

This is a subject you would think would be a running popularity amongst gadgets, but Eton seems to have the market by the throat on this one for now. Others have tried this and failed where Eton has learned from their research and grown.

rugged_green_5The speaker itself is actually pretty small, measuring about 6-inches across and 2-inches high. Equivalent to other small speakers we have covered in the past by companies like UE and JBL. It weighs about a pound and due to its lower weight and small profile, it can fit easily when packed away for travel if you want to throw it into a backpack or something. You can do what we did as well and throw some earth magnets on it to give it some extra flexibility for where you can stick it (we like to put magnets and velcro on things–you should see our video equipment).

It is IPX4 rated for water resistance and a little durability. Despite what a lot of their marketing ads/images may “depict”, it is *not* waterproof. So do not plan for it to become your shower buddy or something to slap onto your surfboard. It’s ok if water is splashed on it, but you do not want to submerge any. If it happens for a quick second because you drop it awkwardly into the kiddy pool or tub, you may be fine if you immediately dry it off, but the warranty won’t save you any if something goes wrong. We did make sure to spray the crud out of it with a water bottle and even dumped a glass of water on it and shook it off. It seemed to perform just fine afterwards without any signs of trouble.

The ruggedness of the speaker is about moderate. Nothing special but nothing weak either. It does look like it could take a little abuse but I wouldn’t throw it at the wall. If you accidently drop it from an arm’s length or it falls off a stand or table, you should be fine. Drop it in the sand and you should also be fine. Just make sure to give it a good blow to get all the sand out.

Now let’s move onto sound! It’s small, so you’re not going to get an incredible amount of bass from it and this is to be expected. It does have a little presence but the focus is mostly in the mids to highs more than anything else. This is going to be the same for nearly any speaker of this size (except apparently the Mini Boom by UE which typically catches everyone by surprise). You do get a nice amount of volume from it making it quite efficient for small to mid outdoor situations like some of the examples I have used above (beach, picnic, etc). You can fill a decent size room using this, but it obviously isn’t going to replace a stereo or anything and you won’t be the talk of the town if it provides the music for any of your parties. If you are looking for a small Bluetooth speaker that is loud though, you have found one. It isn’t as loud as the Mini Boom, but it also isn’t as expensive (especially right now during Black Friday weekend).

On the top of the speaker is a 6-inch by 6-inch solar panel for charging itself with. It can take anywhere from 4 to 5 hours to fully charge when sitting in direct sunlight. This isn’t bad for how small and simple the panel seems. Charging time will fluctuate if you decide to listen to it while it’s charging but it should hold up for the most part as long as it’s in the sun (we didn’t seem to have any troubled with this). It can also be charged by micro-USB from an outlet like any other portable device these days. So it can still be used as an indoor or basic Bluetooth speaker. On a full charge, you get up to 8 hours of music playback before the battery dies (the internal battery is 5200mAh lithium).

Pairing it to your device requires holding the Bluetooth button until you hear a tone. This puts it into pairing mode so that you can find it on your device. It does not support NFC. Distance is about average for connection strength before you start to get drop-out. Nothing too exciting here, so you will want to keep your connected device relatively close at all times.

On the back of the unit you will find a standard 3.5mm input for wired devices that don’t support Bluetooth and there is also a USB type-A input for connecting another device for charging (in case you want to sacrifice your speaker’s charge to resuscitate your smartphone for example).

The buttons are located at the front, on top, right above the face. A simple selection including the power button, the Bluetooth button, a battery button for getting a read out of the battery’s current charge status (LED lights in front of the button) and volume up and down.

Our Conclusion

It actually works! Not only is it very mobile despite the flat-square shape that you would assume would be awkward, but it sounds ok. You can’t expect much more out of it for the size of it’s speakers. Again though, it works. Having a portable speaker that can be powered by the sun but actually can hold up to its promise and keep playing with nothing but the sun to rely on, is pretty nice. It can still be wall-powered so you never risk not having power (in most situations). Great for camping and so many other situations. The price is also not over the top as you can find it under $100 on average.

 


Amazon-Buy-Now

Our Rating

8 / 10 stars           

Average Price*

$47.99-$65.00

*Average price is based on the time this article was published

Downloads:

Owners manual: Click here

Additional Images:

Specifications:

• Rugged and IPX4 splashproof
• Wirelessly connect to any Bluetooth® enabled device
• USB cell phone charger
• Loops for strapping to backpack
• Lithium battery plays music for 8 hours
• Solar panel charging
• Fully charges in less than 5 hours in direct sunlight
• Micro USB takes 2.5 hours to
charge1 via AC power
• Aux-in for use with
non-Bluetooth devices
(cable not included)
• Blue LED indicates
Bluetooth on
• Red LED indicates unit
is charging

PRODUCT SPECS
• Weight: 1.2 lbs (0.53 kg)
• Dimensions:
6.5” x 5.9” x 1.8”
(16.3 x 15.1 x 4.6 cm)

PACKAGING WITH PRODUCT
• Weight: 1.6 lbs (0.73 kg)
• Dimensions:
7.5″ x 6.5″ x 2.8″
(19.0 x 16.4 x 7.0 cm)

WHAT’S INCLUDED
• Rugged Rukus
• USB Charging Cable
• Owner’s Manual


 

Are you a manufacturer or distributor that would like us to test something out for review? Contact us and we can let you know where to send the product and we will try it out.

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About Author

James

Designer, Editor and Reviewer for Poc Network, ProAudio and Mobile Nations.

James enjoys spending most of his time as an audio engineer and technician for the live music industry when he isn’t running around the office here juggling an intense workload. He can also be found frequently in the nearby mountainous ranges, scrambling rocks and rappelling down large sections.

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