Divoom’s AuraBox ($70) is a Bluetooth 4.0 speaker, but that’s just one of many functions performed by this little black square box. Its main selling point is its square 10×10 LED face, which can display drawings, messages, and animations — the AuraBox app also allows you to create your own. AuraBox also acts as a visual notification system, showing alerts for texts, incoming calls, Facebook and Twitter notifications, and more. One of the speaker’s animations is an alarm clock that syncs to the time on your iOS device, and a built-in temperature sensor is another notable feature. AuraBox can also be used as a speakerphone.
AuraBox is a 4.33” square that’s about 2” wide. The light wall is made of plastic, while the rest of the speaker is made from a black matte rubber. Controls are on the top of the accessory, with a micro-USB recharging port and aux jack near the speaker grille. Note that the speaker faces the opposite direction as the LED face — this seems necessary based on the design, but it’s still a little awkward, and kind of defeats the purpose of the music-based animations. If you want the best results when listening to music, you’ll face the speaker.
As a speaker, AuraBox is OK at best. Using a 5W 3” driver to pump out sound, the speaker can get loud for its size, but its comes with a fair amount of distortion at higher volume levels. As one might expect from a lower-priced Bluetooth speaker, performance is rather sporadic from song to song. Some songs are pleasant enough, while others are severely lacking in detail. Bass is present but unrefined. We wouldn’t recommend AuraBox for long-term listening. As a speakerphone, AuraBox performed respectably. Divoom claims AuraBox gets up to six hours of play time on a full charge.
The true appeal of AuraBox comes from its LED face. Everything on that end is relatively easy to use—visual notifications popped up in a timely manner, and we had fun designing our own drawings and animations to use, as well. For those who don’t want to get that deep, Divoom has included a good number of pre-made drawings and animations. AuraBox’s app is user-friendly, and we didn’t have any crashing issues. The alarm clock and temperature sensor features are bonuses, but would be more useful if AuraBox were also designed as a plug-in accessory (users could conceivably leave a micro-USB cable plugged in, but they’ll have to supply their own adapter).
There are plenty of features packed into AuraBox, which is a neat little product that lives up to most of its claims. This is a novelty product, but its notification system will be legitimately useful to some. The sound quality of its speaker doesn’t really measure up to competitors in the same price range, so its LED features are what sets it apart, and it compares favorably to Witti’s Dotti, which we reviewed earlier this year. We see AuraBox as a useful accessory for someone who could use visual notifications — or as a unique gift for a preteen or young teenager — and it earns our general recommendation.
Company and Price
Compatibility: Bluetooth iPads, iPhones + iPods running iOS 7.0 or later