KFC doesn’t make a Bluetooth speaker … yet (though it does make a Bluetooth keyboard, oddly enough). But it seems like just about everyone else does, doesn’t it? Perhaps that’s why I wasn’t too surprised to learn that Mohu, maker of an especially popular line of over-the-air HD antennas, had decided to make a move into the world of wireless audio. From antennas to wireless speakers, just like that? Apparently so. Meet the Mohu BeBox.
To give Mohu credit where it’s due, the BeBox is most certainly not just another Bluetooth speaker. It’s a full-on Android tablet integrated into a massive self-contained speaker system. And when I say massive, I mean this thing hearkens back to the glory days of boomboxes you had to carry on your shoulders because the 10 D-Cell batteries weighed it down so much. At 13.5 x 18.5 x 5 ( H x W x D – in inches) and 14.5 lbs., the BeBox is no skimpy speaker. In fact, it’s brawn is part of what makes it sound so robust.
But before we get to the BeBox’s sound quality, we’ve got to acknowledge what makes this speaker so unique: The built-in Android tablet. It runs Andoid Kit Kat 4.4.4 right out of the box, sports an ARM A7 quad core processor, has full access to the Google Play store, and can take a Micro SD card or USB thumb drive for additional storage and media playback. Also unique to the speaker is an HDMI output, so users can connect the BeBox to a TV or computer monitor and mirror whatever is on the tablet’s display, which would include YouTube, Netflix, Amazon or any number of video sites, music streamers, or game apps.
Though it is a bit heavy, the BeBox has a built-in recessed handle in the back which makes carrying it a bit easier. And for use when away from a wall outlet, a built-in rechargeable battery provides up to about 8 hours of play. The speaker also comes with a auxiliary audio cable for use with its 3.5 mm Aux input jack.
For the beats, Mohu makes mention of a 6-inch long throw woofer with a forward facing port for bass, two 3-inch midrange drivers, and two soft-dome tweeters — no mention of output power is made. The BeBox has enough bass to easily blow away any boombox we’ve ever heard, from the ’80’s and since. As far as the rest of the sonic signature is concerned, we’re pleased with the BeBox’s reasonably clear midrange, and general capability to get loud and rock a party , but an audiophile’s speaker it is not. There’s quite a bit of detail and shimmer missing from the speaker’s tweeters, which seem to have a tough time keeping pace with the rest of the speaker’s frequency response — a balance issue that could be helped a bit with some equalization — and we’re concerned some will be left wanting a slight more “crisp” sound.
The BeBox looks a little bit like a portable heater — and perhaps that’s apropos as it tends to bring the heat when it comes to straight-up loudness — but the speaker makes up for it by being a ton of fun. And fun is important, but then again so is practicality, and that’s where we have a few concerns.
We have trouble seeing scenarios in which the speaker would pair well with a TV or monitor. It’s tall enough that it may not fit underneath a TV or monitor unless it is mounted well up on the wall. And if it can’t be placed under a TV, then it’s bound to be broadcasting sound from off the side, which isn’t ideal. Plus, the built-in Android tablet’s 1024 x 600 resolution comes in well under the HD mark, making it less than ideal for use on TVs over, say, 42-inches (although it doesn’t look horrible on, say, a 55-inch TV.)
Also, while the speaker is technically portable thanks to a long-lasting rechargeable battery (relatively, that is, considering how big and loud it gets), it’s a bit heavy to carry too far, and we’re concerned long periods of sun exposure could cause overheating (the tablet isn’t going to like it one bit, for sure.)
The BeBox’s pre-order price is $450 after a $50 on-site discount, and while that is a fairly hefty sum, we can’t think of another portable wireless speaker that gives you so much. Sure, it’s a bit of a novelty, but the BeBox isn’t just a novelty, it’s a respectable self-contained portable entertainment system with a whole lot of utility.