IMG_20160523_152943Do you like to listen to audiobooks (or music) in the shower, but worry about getting your speaker wet? The NaturalRays waterproof Bluetooth speaker might be just the thing for you. Actually, it’s not quite clear from the product listing exactly what the manufacturer name is—the brand name is given as “NaturayRays,” the vendor on the Amazon page is “NaturalRays,” and the logo—because of how it’s stylized—looks more like “NatulaRays.”

Whatever its name is, the manufacturer asked if they could send me a free unit of this speaker (ordinarily $22 on Amazon) for review. I said yes, because I like Bluetooth speakers, and it just arrived today. I’ve charged it up and spent some time listening to music and audiobooks on it. After trying it out for a while, I conclude it sounds pretty good and looks like a decent value for the price.

IMG_20160523_153249The speaker itself is a rubberized sphere the approximate size of a golf ball, with a tail that can loop back through itself and slip over the speaker for the purpose of fastening it onto something—a shower head, bicycle handlebars, an umbrella handle, and so forth. (The spherical speaker with a grill on the front and a tail at the rear makes it resemble a disembodied eyeball more than a little bit.) A Bluetooth and power indicator light is built into the base of the tail. There’s a rubber plug on a flap that flips up to reveal a micro USB port and a micro-SD card slot. The other side has the traditional volume/track skip and power/pairing buttons. The speaker comes in pastel blue or green colors, and is bundled with a USB cable, a 1/8” earphone jack to USB cable, and an instruction manual.

As a three-watt device, the speaker is decently loud, and offers reasonably good sound. Music sounds all right, and voice sounds really good. In fact, I think it sounds better than my other single-driver speaker, the three-watt Jellybox I used before getting my larger Ankers. It’s not stereo, but for the sort of in-the-shower or in-the-rain listening you might use it for, you’re probably not going to care that much about stereo—and for audiobooks, a single speaker is just fine.

IMG_20160523_170810Make sure you don’t lose the instructions—if you’re wanting to use the AUX cable with a device that doesn’t support Bluetooth, you have to follow the instructions to make sure the speaker is switched over to “aux mode.” Unlike the Anker speakers I reviewed, it doesn’t include an 1/8” jack but has to be switched to an alternate mode for the 1/8” to micro-USB cable. You probably also want to be sure you don’t lose that cable if you plan to make use of it often; I don’t recall ever seeing another one like it.

It’s also worth noting that, unlike many Bluetooth speakers, this one does not seem to function as a speakerphone when connected to your smartphone—I got a phone call while using it and the call didn’t come over the speaker even when I selected “Bluetooth” from my phone’s interface. So if you’re wanting speakerphone functionality, better get something else instead.

I’m not sure I’d necessarily call the speaker completely “waterproof,” especially if you don’t make sure the rubber plug is securely seated all the way in. I’m not sure I’d try using it completely submerged. But if you want a speaker that’s safe to shower with and can survive getting splashed every now and then, and can possibly survive getting dropped in the drink if you retrieve it quickly, this seems like a good choice—especially if you have a Fire tablet, whose dinky little speaker doesn’t offer much in the way of sound you can hear from even a foot or two away.

IMG_20160523_171541I got this NaturalRays speaker free, and am pleased enough with it at that price. That being said, I probably wouldn’t have paid for it myself as I prefer my two Anker speakers that have even better sound and were priced in about the same range. I don’t have a problem listening to them while I take a bath; I simply put them across the room where they’re not likely to get any water splashed on them. And I don’t do all that much listening in situations where I would need a weatherproof speaker, though I could see it coming in handy if I went fishing or boating or camping, spent a lot of time in hot tubs or saunas, or otherwise had reasons to be exposed to the damp a lot.

So, the NaturalRays isn’t really built for a use case I fall into that often. But if I did need this kind of speaker, $22 isn’t a bad price to pay for what you get—especially if the battery life claims of 8 hours are accurate, which I haven’t used it for long enough to test. All in all, it seems to work pretty well. Given that I don’t need this kind of speaker that often, I may end up giving it to my parents when I see them for their 50th anniversary next month. My Dad does a lot of audiobook listening from his Fire.


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