Thanks to Bluetooth technology and water-resistant designs, it's now safe to harmonize with your favorite tunes in the shower. While any waterproof Bluetooth speaker can serve the purpose, iDevice's $100 iShower2 is built specifically for the bathroom: Hang it from the showerhead, and you can control your tunes without touching your phone. You can even find out what time it is. But is the sound good enough?
The iShower2 focuses on functionality more than design. The approximately 6 x 4 x 1.5-inch rectangular speaker looks pretty basic compared to more stylish speakers like the $60 Boom Swimmer or $180 Fugoo Style, but it offers conveniences that those models lack.
The speaker's front-facing play/pause button, forward and back buttons, and volume controls allow you to control your music even when you're not near your mobile device. Most other waterproof speakers lack that kind of remote control. Press the clock button and you can see the time, something I haven't seen in other speakers and that is very useful when you're getting ready in the morning.
On the back, a built-in stand lets you hang the speaker from the shower head. The speaker also ships with a mount if you have a wide shower head.
Oddly, the speaker grill is also on the back, which means the sound comes out away from you. This works OK when you're using the stand, but significantly muffles the sound when you hang the speaker against a wall.
Unlike the Boom Swimmer, the iShower2 is water resistant, but not waterproof, so it shouldn't be submerged. In testing, it worked fine after getting slightly wet in the shower and near the sink.
The pairing process with the iShower2 is more complicated than on most Bluetooth speakers. First, you need to hold the Bluetooth button for five seconds, and then you'll see USE1 OPEN. After pressing the play/pause button on the iShower2, you can go to your mobile device's Bluetooth settings screen to pair with the speaker. You can pair with five different devices.
MORE: Best Bluetooth Speakers
After the initial setup, the iShower2 reconnected with my mobile device quickly when I turned the speaker on. It also automatically played whatever source I had last used for music. The controls on the front were particularly convenient in the shower when I wanted to skip a song or turn up the volume.
The iShower2 offers decent overall sound, and that's all you really need for the target setting. With all the environmental noise in a bathroom — running water, exhaust fans — most of the time, you can barely make out the tunes coming out of any speaker unless you crank it. However, the iShower2 maxed out at about 80 decibels, and started to distort at around 75 decibels. That's enough to be heard about the din, but more watts would be welcome.
During quieter moments, the speaker produces crisp treble tones, and vocals come across clearly. But the iShower2 lacks bass, something that would help the music resonate through the noise and improve the balance of sound when you can hear clearly. On Mark Ronson's "Uptown Funk," the horns and cymbals sounded bright, but the bass line lacked oomph. Rihanna's vocals were clear on "FourFiveSeconds," but Paul McCartney's acoustic guitar was hard to make out.
In general, I found that the speaker sounded best on hard-rocking songs like Led Zeppelin's "Trampled Under Foot" — you won't hear subtleties in the music, but you can still sing along.
The iShower2 boasts an impressive 200-foot wireless range; that's compared to 33 feet for most Bluetooth speakers, like the Boom Swimmer. I didn't have room to test that full distance, but it stayed connected throughout the length of my house (about 50 feet).
The new version of the iShower packs a speakerphone, something many Bluetooth speakers now include. Ignoring the questionable etiquette of taking a call while in the bathroom, I found the voices of people I spoke with came through clearly. My call recipients also said the clarity was good compared to the iPhone's built-in speakerphone.
You can answer and end calls directly through the speaker. The back button answers calls, while the forward button closes them.
Unlike most Bluetooth speakers, the iShower2 doesn't include a rechargeable battery. It uses three AAA batteries, and the rated run time is 25 hours. However, it doesn't show any indication of battery life until the "low battery" warning appears. I tested the speaker for 10 hours without seeing the warning.
If you like tunes while in the bathroom, the $100 iShower2 offers several conveniences that other waterproof speakers don't. The handle is especially useful as a stand or hanger in that environment, and the ability to control playback without touching your mobile device is useful, too. But other waterproof speakers, like the $179 Fugoo Style, deliver much better bass and overall sound quality, though these devices may be more expensive.