This Decade-Old UE Boom Speaker Is My Son’s Favorite Toy

My son has a veritable battalion of baby toys. A truckload of trucks. Several stuffed sloths. But now, as he’s just starting to string syllables together into words, only one of those toys has a name. Allow me to introduce “Didah.”

Didah is a first-generation UE Boom with what I think is a limited-edition design. I don’t remember when or how I got it, but given the OG Boom’s release date was in the spring of 2013, there’s a good chance it’s technically over a decade old. It spent the lion’s share of that life getting no use while sitting on various shelves until it was drafted into active (very active) service a few months ago, largely because I care about it less than my Sonos Roam SL. My year-and-a-half-old son, however, has a different opinion.

Let me tell you about its features.

Didah is great for listening to Nine Inch Nails with your extremely cool dad while on a jog.

Eric Limer

Didah is hefty. Weighing in at over a pound, it’s substantial to lift, but fits nicely into pockets designed for bottles if you are hopping in the car or going for a hike. If your head is disproportionately large and your body is quite small, it can serve as an excellent counterbalance if you hold it while dancing. It can hurt if you drop it onto your toes, but it doesn’t seem too painful as long as there’s not much distance between your fingers and your feet.

Didah is durable. Unlike its descendants, Didah has no official IP rating, but it has survived splashes, mists, and nights out in the rain. Neither does it have an official “getting thrown down the basement stairs” rating, but it’s also held up admirably against that. A CNET review from 2013 touts its (then, more theoretical) durability as a main selling point. Here in 2023, I can heartily agree!

Didah makes nice noises. When you turn the speaker on or off, it doesn’t chirp or bleep or bloop the way all too many devices do. Instead, you get some nice little bongo rolls, which are marginally more pleasant to listen to over and over for what feels like several eternities. They do not particularly sound like “dih-dah” to me, but my ears are old and tired.

Big buttons are great for little hands.

Eric Limer

Didah can rock out. It gets quite loud, and while the low end is ostensibly not great, I haven’t really been able to notice any deficiency day-to-day. And I rarely have to charge it. No, it does not sound as nice (nor is it as feature-packed) as my Sonos SL, but I really cannot overstress how good it is at getting thrown down the basement stairs through the cat door.

Didah is repairable, sort of. It’s an annoying law of consumer electronics that newer gadgets tend to be more disposable, but fortunately, it’s possible to replace the batteries in the various UE Boom speakers. It’s not trivial for the first gen, exactly, but seems within reach for anyone with basic electronics capability (me). Dust we are, and to dust we shall return, but Didah is cursed to serve ceaselessly until the heat death of the universe.

I cannot overstress how good it is at getting thrown down the basement stairs.

It’s not all rainbows and butterflies. Didah has some deficiencies. Sometimes, it will steal the podcast out of my earbuds. Also, I cannot play some music from my phone for the boy while surreptitiously playing a second audio stream into my ears, the way I can on the Sonos. However, these are Bluetooth’s faults, not Didah’s, and maybe even for the best.

Do I recommend purchasing a Didah of your own for yourself or your child? My son might, but he doesn’t know what money is. It’s a bit of a moot point regardless; you’d be hard-pressed to find one for sale without resorting to eBay. The UE Boom 3 is, on virtually all fronts, a more functional follow-up that embodies the same basic tradeoffs: particularly durable but fairly expensive for relatively unremarkable sound. A Sonos Roam SL, if you already are on the Sonos train, is barely more expensive than the Boom 3’s $150 list price, much more capable and lovely to listen to. But the Boom 3 is much more frequently on sale.

Of course, the real joy of a Didah is not knowing what you have until long, long after you bought it. So go dig through your closet for a while, or buy something you can forget about for a decade or so.

King of the noise-makers.

Eric Limer This Decade-Old UE Boom Speaker Is My Son’s Favorite Toy

Exit mobile version