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Reviews > Electronic Devices > Earphones and Speakers > Fugoo Bluetooth Sport Speaker > Test Report by John Waters

FUGOO SPORT BLUETOOTH WIRELESS SPEAKER
TEST SERIES BY JOHN R. WATERS
LONG-TERM REPORT

INITIAL REPORT - May 13, 2014
FIELD REPORT - July 29, 2014
LONG TERM REPORT - October 04, 2014

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: John R. Waters
EMAIL: jrw at backpackgeartest dot org
AGE: 65
LOCATION: Canon City, Colorado USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 175 lb (79.40 kg)

My backpacking began in 1999. I have hiked rainforests in Hawaii, Costa Rica, and Puerto Rico, glaciers in New Zealand and Iceland, 14ers in Colorado and Death Valley's deserts. I hike or snowshoe 6-8 miles (10 km-13 km) 2-3 times weekly in the Cooper Mountain range, with other day-long hikes on various other southwest and central Colorado trails. I frequently hike the mountains and deserts of Utah and Arizona as well. My daypack is 18 lb (8 kg); overnights' weigh over 25 lb (11 kg). I'm aiming to reduce my weight load by 40% or more.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Fugoo Corporation
Year of Manufacture: 2014
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.fugoo.com
MSRP: US $199.99 (core & jacket)
Listed Weight: 1.1 lb (519 g)
Measured Weight: 1.3 lb (567 g)
Verified Listed Size: 2.3" x 7.4" x 2.9" (59 x 187 x 73 mm)

Other details: (from Manufacturer's website and promotional materials)
Fugoo Sport Wireless Speaker
Picture Courtesy of Fugoo

TECHNICAL SPECS

AUDIO QUALITY

* Six proprietary, custom-designed acoustic drivers:
* Two 28 mm (1 ") neodymium tweeters
* Two 39 mm (1.5 ") neodymium aluminum domed mid/woofers
* Two 43 mm x 54 mm (1.7 x 2") passive radiators
* Drivers face all directions, with an 8-degree upward tilt for better dispersion
* Sound Pressure Level (SPL-A): 95 dB @ 0.5 m (20 ")
* Full Range Frequency Response: 60 Hz - 20 KHz
* Supports aptX codec for high-quality Bluetooth stereo sound
CONNECTIVITY
* Bluetooth 4.0 for wireless connectivity up to 33 ft (10 m)
* Bluetooth Low Energy for remote control
* Audio/Video Remote Control Profile (AVRCP 1.4) enables control from your audio device and the optional Remote Control.
* Other Profiles: Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP) 1.3, Hands-Free Profile (HFP) 1.6, Headset Profile (HSP) 1.2
* 3.5mm (0.14 ") stereo input for wired connection
* Micro-USB for charging and updates
MICROPHONE
* Omnidirectional microphone with echo cancellation
* Full-duplex capable in speakerphone mode
* Digital Signal Processor for wind and background noise reduction

UPDATE SOFTWARE COMPATIBILITY
* Windows 8, Windows 7, Vista, XP

ENVIRONMENTAL
* Operating Temp: 14 - 131 F (-10 - 55 C)
* Storage Temp: -40 - 158 F (-40 - 70 C)
* IP67 Rated: Dustproof and waterproof to 1 meter for 30 minutes
* Other Profiles: Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP) 1.3, Hands-Free Profile (HFP) 1.6, Headset Profile (HSP) 1.2
* 3.5mm stereo input for wired connection
* Micro-USB for charging and updates

POWER
* Up to 40 hours continuous play at 50% loudness
* Built-in Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery
* Charged via USB or international AC Adapter (included)
* Battery life displayed on supported devices

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

As luck would have it, the day I received my Fugoo Sport Bluetooth Wireless Speaker, I knew I had to go on a business trip out of town the very next day. Even though I really didn't have the time, the Fugoo was "calling" me because of its unique packaging. I just had to stop what I was doing, open it and check it out.

Fugoo packages their speakers in a very nice clear plastic retail package. Instructions are on an insert card and included on a USB flash drive (an 8 GB one to boot). There is a lot of product information.

This very attractive speaker, the Sport version, in black and teal is small and light-weight.
The little guy is IP67 rated (an IP number is used to specify the environmental protection of enclosures around electronic equipment). For IP67, the 6 signifies totally protected against dust and the 7 signifies protection against immersion up to 3.3 ft (1 m) for 30 minutes.
Operating temp is specified to be from 14 to 131 F (-10 to 55 C)

The unit has TWO Neodymium tweeters (for high frequency sounds) and two Neodymium woofers (for lower frequency sounds). Neodymium is a light-weight magnetic compound used in newer ribbon tweeters and does not affect alien beings as far as we know.

There are two PASSIVE radiators as well. These are like a speaker without a magnetic driver. They look like a speaker cone but are not actively driven and are moved by the sound waves generated by the active speakers. They can be tuned to eliminate turbulence in small enclosures and reduce motion compression in small enclosures like the Fugoo. They add more cost than just a standard reflex port found in less expensive speakers and add to the ability for the designer to offer a more quality sound in smaller enclosures.

The box offers almost 360 degree sound waves at equal levels and up to 95 db of sound at 1.5 ft (0.5 m). FYI that is roughly the same as a jackhammer at 50 ft (15 m) and is the level at which sustained exposure may result in hearing loss. In fact, this little guy has 3 watts of audio power per channel. A lot of LED TV sets only put out 5 watts per channel. With a frequency response of 60 Hz to 20K Hz, the high end is superbly beyond the range of most humans but the low end does not reach down into floor vibrating waves. However, to get down into base I can move furniture with, I would need huge subwoofers. 60 hz is really quite a good spec for a box this size. I'm anxious to hear it under various conditions.

Battery life is specified at up to 40 hours at 50% loudness (more sound, more power used).

I do have to tell about the first time I hooked it up to charge it from the included AC powered wall wart charger. I didn't know yet that the thing TALKS. So I'm charging and playing music in my office and I turn it off and go to bed. About 3 AM I hear this voice telling me "THE BATTERY IS LOW". This continues every so often until I finally hear, "BATTERY POWER IS LOW. SHUTTING DOWN". Then a little jingle plays and the Fugoo turns itself off. The voice was loud! And it is a guy's voice, which is a pleasant change after being so beat up by my cellphone's GPS gal so often for making a wrong turn.

The volume controls are LARGE + and - raised characters/buttons on the top of the unit. The power up/down and Bluetooth buttons are on one side and the power charging mini-USB and 3.5 mm audio jack are on the other. When I push the power button, Mr. Fugoo tells me "Powering on" and plays a musical sequence. There is a lighted LED vertical line between the power and Bluetooth buttons to signify charging (green) and low power (red).
Fugoo Sport and Accessories
Fugoo Sport and Accessories
The unit has Bluetooth wireless connectivity spec'd out at up to 33 ft (10 m), but my first connection went from my office through 2 stucco exterior walls for about 43 ft (13 m) with no problem at all. I'll do a full out test on Bluetooth's distance, battery life, sound quality, charging time and more in my field review.

The unit even has a microphone for full-duplex speakerphone use that I am very anxious to try. It is supposed to connect to my cellphone the same way my car Bluetooth does and allow me to hike and bike hands-free.

The Fugoo can be customized with different "jackets" that encase the unit. I have the Sports jacket and there is also a "tough" jacket available as well. Fugoo indicates they will be releasing more jackets later this year. In the field trial I'll mess around with taking the jacket off and putting it back on. The unit can be purchased without a jacket.

I've been playing with it now in my office to learn how to use it and I am finding it quite impressive. The USB charging cord that came with the unit has a bad connector at the end that plugs into the charger (or any regular USB port), so I had to use one of my own otherwise the unit stops charging. I like the cords though. Both the USB cord (USB to Mini-USB on the Fugoo) and the 3.5 mm audio jack cable for hard wiring the unit are flexible rubberized cords and can be very nicely coiled up.

SUMMARY

My initial summary is, yes, this may be a winner of a small footprint speaker. My only concern is the weight. We'll take it out on some multi-day trips and we'll use solar power to charge it also. It'll get plenty of play time. As far as dust (that IP67 spec), it'll get a nice test when we spend a few nights at the Great Sand Dunes in June. Of course, out here in the high desert, dust is a way of life, so I'll set it outside for a few days and leave it in the rain and in the high altitude sunshine at 100 F (38 C). This should be an interesting field review.


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Well, my Fugoo has gotten quite a workout the past several weeks. It has been in a lot of different places under a lot of different outdoor conditions: snow, rain, dust, sand, mountains and desert. Of course when used indoors, it didn't face any of these weather conditions. It just faced the grandkids.

We went hiking and camping in the Pikes Peak range west of Colorado Springs and brought the Fugoo along. Temps ranged from 65 F (18 C) at night to 87 F (31 C) during the day and the altitude ranged from 5600 ft (1700 m) to over 7200 ft (2200 m). We also spent 4 days at the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in south central Colorado. Temps ranged from 45 F (7 C) at night to 98 F (37 C) during the day and the altitude was around 8170 ft (2650 m). The tallest dune is 750 ft (228 m) and we actually used snow sleds to slide down. The place is 132.4 sq miles (343 km) of amazing landscape and fun, but I digress.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

The Fugoo packs well but is not light, so it is not for minimalist backpackers. Since I am not a fan of listening to music when on the trail (I like listening to the things around me), I didn't strap the Fugoo to my pack and listen as I hiked, although that certainly would have been possible. The Fugoo needs to be used with a harness or stuffed into a backpack water bottle side pouch. It became a pendulum when I had it clipped to my backpack with a carabiner. It did stuff nicely into the exterior water bottle pouch though. Since the thing is Bluetooth wireless and can be quite loud, it also worked well just being stuffed into the top accessory compartment of my pack. But, as I said, "Fugoo" was silenced as I hiked. (I got into the habit of calling the talking prompt "Mr. Fugoo" by the way.)

Battery life has been quite good. Actually, the battery life is astounding. 40 hours is enough to play 4 hours of music in the evening for 10 days on the trail. Since I am never out without solar USB chargers these days, this little gem can just go and go. Of course, the device I am connecting to the Fugoo needs to have a charge also and needs to keep up with the Fugoo! I was able to charge the Fugoo with my 1800 mAh battery that charges from my solar charger. I can get an indication of battery life by pressing the power button. "Battery is almost full" Fugoo says, or "Battery is about half full" he will say. There is no meter and I have to take his word for it. Being a techie, I like more exact measurements on battery life, but the battery use time is so long, these prompts have served their purpose. The unit will display battery life on supported devices, such as an iPhone, but I have not tested that.

I can charge the Fugoo up and let it sit for a week and the battery will still be "Almost full" per Mr. Fugoo.

I have discovered that I can't get Fugoo to lower his voice. As I write this though, there is a firmware update to allow 3 levels of voice prompts and I will do that update and report on that in the final report. I can turn him off completely however by pressing the - and + buttons together and turning the power on. He gets a few last words in "Voice prompts are off" then goes away. The LEDs work fine without having the voice prompts, but powering up still gives a loud "bubble" sound.
Fugoo at Sand Dunes
Dinner Music at Great Sand Dunes NP & Preserve
The Bluetooth worked well for me. It will automatically connect to the last device it paired with. Of course, since I was playing with connections to several devices, when Fugoo would announce "Connected", I wasn't sure who it was paired with. If I had a device handy, I could check the Bluetooth list real quick on the nearest device to see if it was connected. I can also just hold down the right button until Fugoo tells me "Pairing Mode" and flashes the LED red. When it goes into pairing mode, it disconnects from the previous device and allows another device to scan for it (gee, it's called "Fugoo Speaker" on the pairing list) and connect. Once the new device connects Fugoo says again "Connected" and now we can play through.

The Great Sand Dunes has a lot of sand (go figure) and it is really fine dusty sand and it blows around a lot. Our tent was COVERED in a fine sandy dust and for a week I was getting sand out of my trail shoes and other gear. Fugoo didn't show any signs of being affected and kept providing music while we prepared dinner and sat around the camp fire. I took the outer cover off and then blew the dust out. Didn't need to wash it out.

I did a Bluetooth distance check. The specification on the Fugoo Web site says 33 ft (10 m) distance. Indoors from the office wing of our house to the dining room in the next wing is about 45 ft (14 m) and I had no trouble connecting through the two courtyard stucco walls with my Toshiba Satellite laptop. Outdoors with no obstructions, I was able to connect over 75 ft (23 m) using my Asus Netbook.

To really test this, we gave the Fugoo a work out one night when tenting in the Cooper Mountain range in Colorado. My granddaughter (13) was having a birthday party and she and two girlfriends were sharing a tent that they wanted set up out of sight of where we were. Well, I had downloaded a whole series of animal growls, howls and roars for bears, raccoons (what a horrible noise those things make), cougars and owls. So my son went ahead later at night and set the Fugoo about 50 ft (15 m) away from their tent while I hid behind a bush with my netbook about 50 ft (15 m) away. I started with the mountain lion growl, then a bear growl and we could hear them mumbling from the tent. We didn't have our phones because we didn't want them to ring and give us away. Later we listened to the voice mail and she had called him and was asking "Is that you? Please let us know! Ali is really scared and crying." But they weren't upset too long, because during all my clicking on the MP3 files for 10 minutes making all sorts of scary animal sounds, I hit a MP3 for a disco clip. That created a group "Oh, we knew it was you!" from the tent and a lot of laughs. So Fugoo can be fun. I just need to remember to turn the voice prompts off or power up and connect when out of range. And to not click on the wrong audio file.

I have not had a great deal of success using Fugoo as a Bluetooth extension to my Galaxy S4 cell phone. I use the S4 with my Subaru Forester Bluetooth all the time. I find that the other party can't hear me well if the Fugoo is even an arm's length away. I intend to try more to see if I can get the speakerphone function to work better. I can hear the other party okay though. The O on the top of the unit is the call disconnect. It also serves to start Google Now on the Galaxy S4, which allows me to dial by voice, get text to voice conversions and respond to texts by voice. The Google Now voice prompt is loud and clear but the caller volume is about half that level. I also seem to lose the attention of Google Now at times and have to click the microphone button on the phone to do voice commands again. I'll do the firmware update and report back in the final report.

SUMMARY

All in all, this has been a handy and fun device to have around. It certainly is loud. It fills the 1250 sq ft (381 sq m) great room area of our house with music and can be heard for hundreds of feet/meters outdoors. Plus its sound quality is excellent. No distortion at even the highest volume. Just good crisp audio with a great dynamic range.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM FIELD INFO & PERFORMANCE

Well, using the Fugoo has been fun. That is for certain.

During the last leg of this trial, the Fugoo was used at base camp for music but not while actually backpacking because of its weight. We were on high altitude trails above 11,000 ft. (3353 m) and I wanted as little weight as possible, so Fugoo stayed in the tent to get ready to entertain us when we got back. There was no cell service where we were hiking, so having a hands-free speaker phone would not have helped either. But, Fugoo did patiently wait for us to return and was ready to perform when we were cooking, eating and partying at base camp at around 7,000 ft (2134 m). One thing I do like about this speaker is the fantastic battery life. Although it can be charged from solar batteries and laptops, having a 40 hour discharge period means on a weekend overnight I can play music from dusk to passing out in the tent (maybe 8 hours each night and 2 in the morning, for 10 hours per day), for 3 days and still have a charge remaining of almost 10 hours on the Fugoo.

Here are some things I've noticed over the past 4 weeks.

I charged the Fugoo to 50% in 2 hours from the USB port of my Toshiba laptop. I charged the Fugoo from 50% to 75% in 50 minutes from my 6000mAh USB storage cell and then in another 50 minutes from the same storage cell, it reached a full charge. So if a full charge is 40 hours, that means with a 50 minute charge from my little cell phone sized storage battery unit, I can have 10 hours of use time. The storage cell itself only reported 25% discharge, too. So I can re-charge the Fugoo a few times with this little storage unit I carry around.

Fugoo works okay with Google Now on my Samsung S4 phone. Pressing the O (Action) button on top of the Fugoo will launch Google Now on the phone (if not already running) and I can use voice commands like "Call Kathy Waters" to dial my wife hands-free or "Text Kathy Waters" to send a text message by voice. The process gets a little confused if the ambient noise level is as high as my voice commands. So in a noisy environment it helps to speak loudly, but outdoors or in my office, a normal voice level works fine. I can get 10 feet away from the Fugoo and carry on a conversation without shouting. Farther away if I shout. So I can easily be conversing while hiking, cooking around the camp fire, while in my car or working, or in the pool. However, I have noticed that people have commented on not being able to hear my voice well (low volume) for the first minute or so of the call. Then if I put my mouth closer to the Fugoo, it's like the automatic level control figures things out and then my voice volume appears to go up and the caller says he can hear me louder and I can get as far away as 10 feet and talk normally.

I have had issues with Google Now and Samsung S Voice (voice recognition) though I think this is NOT the fault of the Fugoo. Neither application works exceptionally well, even in native mode using the in-phone speaker. The Fugoo works via Google Now and I am able to operate Google Now with the Fugoo, but these functions themselves leave a lot to be desired and can be very frustrating. It's not the fault of the Fugoo at all. But, for example, whether I am using the Fugoo or just the phone speaker, I can send a text message just fine using voice commands, but if I get a reply and have either the Google Voice or S Voice application read it to me, I then get asked to say "reply" or "cancel". If I say "reply" it works, but the apps just put me into a loop if I say "cancel" and want to get out. They both just keep reading me the message and asking me if I want to reply or cancel. Argh! So I have to either close the Google Voice app by pressing the O on the Fugoo or close the app on the phone. Google Voice works great as a hands-free dialer with the Fugoo for sure. But, the text apps from Google Now or Samsung S Voice are not perfect enough for me to use in the car.

I did the firmware update and the process was quite simple. I downloaded the speaker updater for my Laptop running Windows 8.1 and downloaded the current version of the speaker software Version 01.00.46. I just connected the Fugoo via USB to my laptop, ran the updater application on my laptop and selected the downloaded new software package. It worked just fine. The update added a bunch of nice features: enhanced loudness mode (up to 50% boost), better battery status indication, ability to set a Bluetooth device name for the speaker (other than Fugoo), better management of the voice prompts, improved audio quality (it was great before, better now) and more. These improvements are to what was already a well-designed speaker. Of course, with the ability to do firmware updates in this manner, who knows what will come in future versions.

SUMMARY

The Fugoo speaker is a fun product. It's a high quality, high-tech speaker that is rugged and can take a beating, and it sounds and performs great. It's not something I will want to toss in my backpack if I want to keep the weight down, but it IS a device I will always have with me for my base camping. We've had a lot of fun playing with this product over the past 4 months and look forward to continuing to enjoy having it available.

Thanks you to BackpackGearTest.org and to Fugoo for the opportunity to try out such a unique product.

John R. Waters

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

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