Zooka Wireless Speaker Bar review: pump up the volume on the go
There's something inherently fun about the Zooka: it's a bright, chunky bar with a speaker at either end, which connects to your iPad or MacBook over Bluetooth and will work as an iPad stand for good measure. Available in a range of candy-bright colours, it's silicon-coated, making it pleasingly tactile as well as robust. Four silicon buttons control power, volume and Bluetooth connectivity.
The Zooka's makers claim it offers five times the volume of the iPad's built-in speakers, and it certainly packs a punch in the noise department. But quantity doesn't always mean quality, and this is where the Zooka falls down: we found the audio to be lacking in bass and richness, and getting tinnier at higher volumes.
But if you're on the road or otherwise not in need of studio-quality sound, the Zooka is surprisingly versatile: you can connect it to other audio devices using the 3.5mm input jack, while its built-in mic means you can use it for Skype calls or even, if paired with your iPhone, as a hands-free set.
Unfortunately, getting started with the Zooka is rather less than fun – it won't switch on until you've held the power button down for three seconds, which isn't explained in the pictogram-only instruction leaflet. Once its little blue light is showing, pairing the device over Bluetooth is relatively simple.
Using the Zooka as an iPad stand, too, isn't without its problems: you screw a little strut into the back of the device to prop it up – but this places the controls underneath the device, out of reach. It's a baffling little quirk in a device that's otherwise so carefully designed.
The Zooka is the length of an iPad and weighs in at 400g: there are smaller, lighter travel speakers out there, and its sound quality leave something to be desired. But with its long battery life and sturdy, compact design, it's easy to see how this could be a useful travel companion.