Review: The Stowaway Boomtube H201 speaker system - Macenstein

Review: The Stowaway Boomtube H201 speaker system

Posted by Lab Rat

With over 50 million iPods sold, there is no denying that people like to carry their music around with them. However, despite what many press articles would have you think, not ALL iPod users are isolationists, content to tune out the world via their tiny white earbuds. SOME iPod users actually have friends, and want to share their music with others, whether at their house or out on the road.

A company called Think Outside has addressed this need (in spades) with their new Stowaway Boomtube H2O1, a portable speaker system unlike any I have come across before. For those of you too lazy to read a full review, let me cut to the chase here. Every iPod owner in the world should go out RIGHT NOW and buy the Boomtube H2O1. That’s right, all 50 million of you. I freely admit I am smitten with this device. As Mike Myers once said, “I am in deep smit.�

So what is the Boomtube H2O1?

The Boomtube H2O1 is a 40 watt portable speaker system, complete with a subwoofer-like bass tube and two two-inch aluminum satellite speakers. Out of the box, the design and craftsmanship of the Boomtube is what will first impress you. While billed as the ultimate portable speaker system, this thing is NOT light. It weighs in around 3.5 pounds, and the thing feels rock solid. The exterior of the unit is housed in anodized aluminum that, according to the manufacturer, delivers a better sound than a plastic housing would. It also makes it WAY more resistant to scratches and such (maybe Apple should make an anodized aluminum iPod).

The Boomtube in “travel mode” with speakers attached.

A good portion of the Boomtube’s weight may be attributed to its built-in rechargeable lithium ion battery, which keeps the music pumping for up to 5 hours. This is actually a godsend for me, as my current portable speaker solution runs off standard (or rechargeable) AA batteries, and it eats them like candy. Just keep the Boomtube plugged in to an AC jack when not in use and you’ll always be ready to take it on the road.

The Boomtube’s speakers can be positioned a full 2 meters apart.

The design of the Boomtube is really quite cool. The speakers twist off each end of the central bass tube, and can be positioned a full two meters apart thanks to the generously lengthy included audio cables. This allows for a great separation and “room filling� sound.

And speaking of sound…

This thing simply sounds great. You would NEVER expect sound this full and rich (and loud!) from a unit this small. The sound easily surpasses that of the (debatably) fugly Sonic Impact i-Fusion Portable Speakers, which lack the Boomtube’s sense of style. The volume smoothly scales without distortion, even at the highest levels. In fact, Think Outside actually gave the Boomtube’s volume knob an “11� setting.

The Boomtube’s volume and bass dials.

I love music, but I would not consider myself a true audiophile. However, the sound guy at the video company I work for IS, so I had him listen to the Boomtube to give me his honest assessment.

Hooked to my iPod and playing a little Zepplin, his first impression was he thought the sound was very good (he used the word “clean� a lot) but he said the unit lacked a bit in the mid ranges. Then we realized my iPod’s EQ was set to NONE. After fiddling around with some EQ settings (we settled on JAZZ of all things) he seemed quite impressed. He said he had never heard such clear sound from such a small device, and was especially fond of the bass the Boomtube delivers. He pointed out that it sounded even better when the bass tube was positioned on the floor (so the bass had a hard surface to bounce off of). So the moral here is the Boomtube can only sound as good as your source. Garbage in, garbage out, so adjust those EQ settings people!

Next I plugged the Boomtube into my portable DVD player. Here again the Boomtube’s rich bass was the star. The low, rumbling breathing of King Kong really came through, and as long as I held the 8-inch screen a foot from my face, I could almost envision I was at the theater.

Let me just stress one more time how clean and loud the Boomtube’s sound is. Even outside, where most speaker systems can feel underpowered, the Boomtube is LOUD. I plugged my Sirius radio receiver into the Boomtube and my friends and I blasted out our favorite 80’s hair bands for hours, annoying anyone in a one-block radius born after 1976.

The Boomtube H2O1can be attached to anything with an audio out cable, from iPods and DVD players to MP3 cell phones.


Honestly, I think the Boomtube H2O1 may be the best sounding and most stylish portable speaker set money can buy (well, AVERAGE money can buy). Its “light saber� good looks, impressive battery life, and awesome sound really deliver. Think Outside seems to be a company that realizes it’s the small details that can make a good product a great one. Little touches, like quality audio cables, an included sport carrying case, and ear plugs (included for those neighbors I was annoying) show the company has a somewhat irreverent but obsessive outlook on product design. And I’m sorry, but the fact that the Boomtube’s volume goes up to “11� is just awesome.

The only design issue I have even a slight problem with is that you must press and hold the power button for 2 or 3 seconds to turn the Boomtube on. I’m assuming this decision was made to keep the unit from being accidentally turned on and running down the battery while being transported, so it’s understandable.

The Boomtube H2O1 comes with a travel case with strap.

So is it perfect?

Yes. Well, sort of. The only potential problem here is the cost. The Boomtube H2O1 sells for $250, which falls in the mid-to-high range of speakers currently selling at the Apple Store (although most of those do not have the battery powered option or portable form-factor). While I think the Boomtube is well worth the $250 given its great sound and styling, I think Think Outside would sell a ton more of these at $199 (I know, I know, they would sell even more at $39). The price issue here is not whether you get your money’s worth (you do), it’s whether enough people can afford to spend as much as a new iPod costs in order to make their current iPod sound great.

So, will the average person be willing to shell out $250 for portable speakers? Well, I would. Remember, these are not simply portable speakers. Think of them as an amazingly robust and stylish sound system that adds the versatility of portability to the equation. Just leave them plugged into your computer or put them on a bookshelf and you’ve got a kick-ass sound system capable of rocking any dorm or living room, yet know you can quickly bring the party outside without the need to be huddled around an AC jack.

The bottom line is, if you can afford these speakers, you should get them, and if you can’t afford them, you should get a better job.

The Stowaway Boomtube H2O1 By Think Outside

Price: $250

Rating: 9.4 out of 10

Pros: Amazing sound, great styling/solid design, very good battery life, included cables and carrying case

Cons: Non significant (Although it would be a runaway seller at $199)

6 Responses to “Review: The Stowaway Boomtube H201 speaker system”
  1. “if you can afford these speakers, you should get them, and if you can’t afford them, you should get a better job.�

    Damn that’s cold. No way I am giving up my career at KFC… I will just have to save I guess.
    Is there any place you can hear these first? Does the Apple store sell them?

  2. jack breathnach says:

    A better review could not have been written, even by the manufacturer… would be nice if someone with reasonable expertise did a side-by-side report with the that Apple HiFi thing.

  3. JKP says:

    Think “OUTSIDE” is riding on Virgin Atlantic’s Coat-tail with these speakers. They are OVERSTOCK from Virgin that used to sell these under the same name, boomtube extreme. So THEY didnt think of any of the design, nor changed any of the design. They simply put their name on it. So credit is due to the rightful people/company. All that said, they ARE great speakers… I owed 3 sets and sold them on ebay.

  4. dbr says:

    heres an interesting note- the Virgin Boomtube actually shows up under the ad to the right of these comments.

    as to whether or not they are the same thing, and based solely on the pic amazon supplies, the Think outside boomtube’s bass tube is much longer.

    and thanks to this review, these speakers are no longer on my curiousity list, they have graduated to “I want these.”

  5. Add Info says:

    Virgin made 2 versions one battery powered only which was 4 watts (and $39) and one like this one 40 watts. It is basicly the same OUTSIDE added the delay in the on switch because the Virgin verssion would turn on in your bag and kill the battery they also added a bigger carring bag.

  6. mr skin says:

    King Kong was awesome, especially the 15 minute crazy battle with Kong and the dinosaurs. And Jack Black really did a good job as a semi normal character.

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