Gadget Review: Scosche's boomCAN Portable Media Speaker

A decent mini-speaker for portable media players that is affordable and easy to use.

By , Columnist

Scosche

I'm always impressed when a gadget lands on my desk that does what it's supposed to without fuss. Scosche's boomCAN is one such device. It's a basic, barrel-shaped mini-speaker for portable media players that is dead simple to use and lives up to expectations.

The boomCAN looks a bit like a pepper pot thanks to its round shape and the grill strip that runs across the top of the speaker drum. The speaker itself is housed in an aluminum case with plastic top and bottom. Construction is not especially sturdy but is solid enough for desktop use. Scosche does provide a handy carry bag, too, in case you want to take the boomCAN on a road trip.

Setting up the boomCAN is a piece of cake. It's powered by a USB cable that plugs into a PC or other power source with an appropriate input. If you want to position the speaker away from that source, you can charge the in-built battery. Scosche claims that a full charge can last up to seven hours. Alternatively, if a source of power is close by, you can power the boomCAN while it's in use via the included combined USB/audio cable.

boomCAN_2_crop.jpgThe audio feed into the speaker is via a 3.5 mm audio jack that plugs into any conventional headphone socket. There is also a 3.5 mm jack on the speaker itself that allows you to connect additional boomCANs. On the bottom of the speaker is a little slider that you can set for maximum or mid-range audio. However, I couldn't hear any difference in the sound regardless of which setting I had it on and what the volume of the playback device was.

Scosche says on its website that the boomCAN produces "booming" sound. That's exaggerating but if you're expecting to stage a rave in your backyard with one of these not-so-bad boys, you clearly don't know what to expect from a sound product priced around $25. Basically the boomCAN is intended to provide improved audio quality and volume for a range of devices that produce poor sound or no audio at all.

If you crank up the volume on the audio source, the boomCAN produces lots of distortion. At reasonable output levels, though, it adds a modest amount of depth and power to the flat sound that generally comes out of speakers in portable media players and smartphones.

It's rare to criticize a company for under-marketing a product but Scosche sells itself short with the logo on the boomCAN's box that says the device is for 'audio players'. Although it is obviously an audio device, it can also be used with portable video players that have no in-built speaker. I tried it with my old Creative Zen and it worked a treat, giving that device a new lease of life. I also hooked it up to my laptop and it delivered significantly better sound than the in-built speaker when watching a movie. You shouldn't expect hi-def but nor will you have to sit three inches from the screen to hear what's going on.

The boomCAN provides affordable and convenient amplification that can be a useful addition to your iOS device, Android tablet or laptop in the home and on the road. You can't ask for more at its price.

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Michael Simpson is a freelance writer, editor, presenter, researcher, instructor, gadget freak and sci-tech consultant based in British Columbia’s beautiful Okanagan Valley. Formerly from the UK, he’s converted from tea to coffee and written and presented on film, TV, science, nature, technology,…

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