Those who remember shower radios from the past will shudder when they think of how big and clunky they were — and how they precariously balanced over the shower head due to the weight not being evenly distributed. And those that worked were limited to what their antenna could pull in — AM radio nobody cared to listen to and FM radio that had to be adjusted “just so” in order to get a strong and even signal. Even so, you were forced to listen to whatever the radio station’s personnel decided to play. So ABCO Tech decided to update the shower radio into one that you can actually use by revamping it for the 21st Century. That means their Waterproof Bluetooth Shower Speaker takes advantage of Bluetooth for streaming the music you want to hear.
A cursory investigation of the speaker betrays the obvious: it has a rubber-like exterior that renders it waterproof (IPX4 rating). Tabbed controls run at both sides: a power button that doubles for Bluetooth pairing, one to activate the microphone for an incoming call, two to increase/decrease the audio volume. Between these controls is where an LED indicates what is being activated, and below the MIC hole is highlighted (the purpose here being to show where to direct your voice and, sensibly enough, to give an marker for where you should keep the water away from so what you say won’t be drowned out. On the back is a rubber stopper that keeps the AC power socket from getting wet. The Waterproof Bluetooth Shower Speaker can provide up to 10 hours of power and I used it for over 6 before I decided to recharge it. ABCO Tech includes a USB connection that terminates in a mini-jack plug that goes into the speaker.
I pressed/held in the power button to turn it on, paired it with my iPhone and proceeded to stream music through it. The volume level was good but how it would sound when there’s water running in a bathroom that, by its nature, makes for greater audio reflection that that of an average room has yet to be seen. I did try out the radio to see if the auto-scan would find FM stations, which it did, and the FM sound came through without incident.
I took the Waterproof Bluetooth Shower Speaker into the bathroom and hooked it over the shower head — the hook’s angling abilities making this an easy task. I pressed/held in the power button till it came on and then rotated the hot/cold water knobs to start the water flowing. This was followed by rotating the center knob to send the water out through the shower. I then stepped back out of the bathroom to where I had left my iPhone, went to my music library and selected iRadio. Going back into the bathroom and into the shower, I could now hear music playing through the speaker. I slightly increased the volume and listened to music (and also the occasional iTunes-forced commercial) while washing up. Everything came through clearly, there wasn’t any distortion, hiss or a breakup of the signal (I’d say the iPhone was separated from the speaker by about 20 feet). Plus it was loud enough to drown out my singing, when I gave it the old college try. The water hitting the speaker didn’t seem to cause it any problems either, and after I was done and had wiped it off, I played a bit with the controls to verify that there wasn’t any water damage. This included placing a call and using the microphone (the other party had no problems hearing me). I could also see just leaving it in the shower, rather than taking it out, unless it needed the infrequent recharge or was going to be used elsewhere.
Bottom line: ABCO Tech’s $39.99 for its Waterproof Bluetooth Shower Speaker is a bargain should one wish to listen to music near any water source — be that the shower, a pool, spa, what have you. Its ability to stream music is definitely the big draw and makes it a valid speaker companion for in-bathroom use as well as outdoors.
Bluetooth 3.0, FM auto-scan
AC charging stopper could break off over time
Marshal Rosenthal is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and journalist specializing in technology, consumer electronics and pop culture.