Sugr Cube Is a Sweet Little Wi-fi Speaker

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Sugr-maple

The Sugr Cube is not your average portable speaker, and that’s a good thing. First of all, it’s not a Bluetooth speaker, so it’s not portable in the sense that you can take it anywhere, pair it with your phone, and then play your music. Both devices have to be on the same wi-fi network to stream from your phone (though that’s less important than you might think). But these days, that’s not a huge challenge. Indeed, if you have something like a Mifi or a KarmaGo in your gear bag, you’re all set to take it anywhere you want. And since wi-fi networks tend to cover larger areas, that means you don’t have to feel quite as tethered to the speaker, and can walk around more.

It also adds to the portable functionality by having on-board memory, allowing you to store hundreds of songs, and play those tunes for up to 24 hours without being plugged into anything. This pretty much solves any connectivity issues.

The Sugr Cube started out as a successful Kickstarter project. The selling points were elegant design, which they achieved with a simple, but gorgeous real-wood exterior that makes you feel like this could be a speaker by Copenhagen (I started to say Ikea, but this is REAL wood). It has a 4″ driver that delivers clear highs and mids. Like most other small portable speakers, it won’t shake the floor, but when you have a clean, warm sound coming out, you don’t necessarily miss the boom.

Another big selling point is the way you can control the music from the speaker itself. There are no buttons (there’s a knob in back that controls on/off and volume, but that’s it). Instead, you just tap the top of the speaker for play/pause, tilt it left for back, or right for forwards to change songs. Also, you can use the Cube as an alarm, and use the tap/tilt controls for snoozes or to turn the alarm off in the morning.

Because it’s an AirPlay speaker, it’ll play any audio output from your phone when its selected as the external speaker. However they’ve gone a step further with their Spotify integration. As a Spotify partner, they’ve been able to tap into the streaming service’s API, and build the calls directly into the Cube. The result is that you can hand-off the music streaming from the Cube app directly to the Cube, taking your mobile device out of the chain. If you’re a Spotify power-user, this is pretty handy.

Having started as a Kickstarter project, you can go through their forums and see all the development work that went into this quality audio device. And there’s still development going on, at least on the software side. They are working on adding pairing capabilities so that, like the UE Boom speakers, you’ll be able to partner two or more Cubes and use them as stereo speakers. They’re also working on making the Cube work as part of a multi-room AirPlay system (it currently can’t sync up with other AirPlay speakers on the same network).

Takeaways: The Sugr Cube is a very nice portable speaker, with a simple, beautiful look, excellent sound for its size, and some very interesting features that put it ahead of the normal Bluetooth speakers on the market. The quality of construction and built-in capabilities make it a strong contender in price competition against similar devices with less functionality.

The Sugr Cube currently comes in two finishes, Maple and Cherry (it looks like they have more planned), and costs $229 per unit. You can buy them here.

{Note: Sugr sent us a review unit to test. All opinions are our own.]

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