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Mohu BeBox review: An epic mashup of Bluetooth boombox and Android tablet

Theo Nicolakis | Dec. 22, 2015
The Boombox survived the transition to CD, but the MP3 and iPod era all but killed it. Mohu, the company that redefined the high-definition TV antenna, aims to resurrect it with the BeBox.

bebox front

Boomboxes were everywhere in the 1980s. Throw in eight D-cells and you had a portable, all-in-one stereo system with a single—or even a double—cassette deck and an AM/FM radio that could go anywhere around the house, in your back yard, or to the beach.

The Boombox survived the transition to CD, but the MP3 and iPod era all but killed it. Mohu, the company that redefined the high-definition TV antenna, aims to resurrect it with the BeBox, a concoction leavened with an ARM processor, the Android operating system, and a Bluetooth radio. “Just what we need,” I hear you thinking, “yet another Bluetooth speaker.”

Indeed. On the surface, Mohu’s BeBox looks like it’s nothing more than a Bluetooth speaker—a big one. Standing 13.5 inches tall and 19 inches wide, the BeBox is physically imposing. But then you notice the 7-inch color touchscreen embedded in the top of cabinet. And what’s this? An HDMI port? Okay, maybe the BeBox is something different.

bebox screen 
Having an embedded Android tablet enables this speaker to do a lot more than play music. Credit: Theo Nicolakis

A tablet? In a speaker?

That 7-inch, touchscreen is more than just a 1024x600-pixel display—it’s a full-fledged Android tablet powered by an ARM Cortex A7 quad-core processor running Android 4.4.2. The first time I powered the system up, it stepped me through the process of joining my wireless network (it has an onboard 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi adapter) and prompted me for my Google ID. I was ready to rock within just a few moments.

The BeBox supports streaming from Bluetooth devices such as a smartphone or tablet, of course, but it offers alternatives if you don’t want to tie up your mobile device. You can plug in a USB thumb drive (up to 64GB of flash memory), a MicroSD card (up to 32GB), or any analog audio source via its 1/8-inch input. The USB port will also charge the battery in a connected Android or iOS device; unfortunately, you can’t access the storage on a connected smart device.

Having an Android tablet at its core enables the BeBox to run almost any app or service you can think of: Do you listen to music through Pandora? Are you a Spotify or Tidal subscriber? Do you get your music from Amazon Prime? Are you an Apple Music subscriber? Do you like playing music via YouTube? No problem. Navigate to the Google Play Store and download whatever you need.

bebox applemusic 
The BeBox can play music from almost any source, including Apple Music. Credit: Theo Nicolakis

 

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