Reacher C26 Bluetooth Speaker: Fashion meets rugged.
Technology is amazing, when you can use it. Over the past year, my 7 year old son, Daniel, and I have started to tent camp with boy scouts. We even earned the Polar Bear Badge, for a recent camp out, when temperatures dropped below 32 degrees overnight. This was a struggle, but we persevered. Honestly, the night was easy as we slumbered, nestled in our 0 degree mummy style bags. The problem? Getting out of the bag in the morning proved to be a struggle. Typically on these camp outs, they disallow technology or we are in a place that is very inhospitable to technology. I still typically have my phone nestled in a waterproof Catalyst case on my hip (IP68), as this is a safety element to me. I have shied away from wired headphones/anything that accesses the bottom port, as this opens the phone to the elements. So, Bluetooth it is, for my listening enjoyment. I was super excited to learn about the Reacher Waterproof Speaker.
The box is 8 3/8″ long 3 3/16″ wide by 3 3/8″ all. The entire package comes shrink wrapped. Removing the plastic, you can see the outer slip cover, which displays a black image of the speaker and very minimal basics on the front. ON the back it lists some of the capabilities: flashlight, hands free calling, IP65 waterproof and an audio in port. The device is listed as silicone construction, has a battery capacity of 3.7V 2200 mAh (which is reasonable for this size device). It charges via microUSB (included). Remember, the device is not IP65 while charging!Removing the slip cover, the cardboard underneath is stamped with an image of the device and plain black lettering. The packaging could use some sprucing up, as the device is so colorful that the packaging really does not do it justice.
Opening the box, you see a black rubberized speaker with orange accent in plastic wrap, surrounded by cutout foam. Remove the device/foam and underneath you have a user manual and headphone jack sound cable, a carabiner, and a USB A to microUSB charging cable for the speaker. The instruction manual, unfortunately, is not well written. The instructions start with precaution review and move into a useful product diagram. This diagram is the most useful part of the manual and the most understandable. The back of the speaker is flush with a single input panel. This panel is covered by a fitted layer of rubberized black silicone that seals the area. Here you see the aux input, USB charging port and the switch to turn on the device. The instruction manual details the basic use of the device, paring, playing and buttons along the top of the box, details the flashlight (button on the top of the box). It does have a built in mic and can be used to make/receive calls. It has a hook that is designed to allow this to clip onto a bag. Charge the device when the sound distorts (Charger included). LED will turn red when charging and will turn off when charged fully (customary). They state it takes about 4 hours to charge via wall and 5-6 by computer. I have charged it 2x via USB wall plug, and it seemed to take about 4.5 hours to charge.
Finally the manual details the warranty. This is not understandable. The warranty starts form date of purchase and extends for “three guarantees.” Now, what is a guarantee? I have no idea. It details the provisions: Unable to show proof of purchase/warranty, malfunction and damage caused by “irresistible factors and other reasons,” misuse, caused by transportation. Altogether this seems reasonable. Again, what is a three guarantee?
Initial Impression of the device:
The device is really neat. It is rugged and I am a fan of the orange on black color scheme. Any outdoorsman is aware that black is a bad color, as if you drop it, it is very hard to find. The orange really helps in this regard. The device weighs 13.7 ounces and measures at 7 1/2″ long, 2 1/4″ wide and 2 3/8″ tall (187X56x62mm according to the package). On one end is a nylon loop, to affix the carabiner (not for climbing) and the other is a flashlight. There is no mention in the instructions about the lumens of the light. It is on par with the small 2-3AAA flashlights you can purchase from the store. The light is enough to provide minor illumination in the dark.
Open the back silicone port to find the toggle switch. Slide this to the “on” position and then look for C26 in your devices Bluetooth. I wish you could change this to “Reacher,” but I do not think that you can. I had some issues connecting to Bluetooth. I then realized that this was because the orange slider was not all the way to the side. It was very difficult to slide the first time and I had to use a screwdriver to push it to the side. Once I forced the slider over, a blue LED flashed on the top and the C26 was found under Bluetooth settings. If left alone for 5 minutes it will turn off. When a button is pushed it will restart and easily pairs with the last paired device, quickly.
The device is listed as IP65, which means it is completely protected from dust and protected from water from direct nozzle/jet for at least 3 minutes at 12.5 liters per minute at a pressure of 30kPA. What does this mean? It means it is dust proof and water spray proof, but not submersible. Submersion would be IP67 and waterproof would be IP68. The listing of waterproof on this case is incorrect and dangerous. This device is not meant to be underwater for any reason. For a speaker that is designed to go on the outside of a mountaineering bag, I would expect the IP system and the design to have been more compatible with light submersion.
The sound is rather tinny, rather poppy at higher volumes and the bass is weak on this unit. My base test track is “Why So Serious? The Joker Theme from The Dark Knight soundtrack. At around the 3:27 point, the music builds and builds like a train. You get a great appreciation for bass, for sub-bass as it feels like a helicopter in a good set of speakers. I have had speakers that you cannot hear anything up until about 4 minutes. This Reacher begins to pop at around the 3:46 mark and is not very flattering. I used it to watch the opening of Braveheart and was not too displeased with the sounds. It has good treble but is lacking in the bass department. Turning the volume to half did help some, but any more than this and the speaker popped. It is not bad, I have definitely had worse. With the weight of the device, I expected better bass. This did okay outdoors in even moderate rain. Again, make sure that the back hatch is closed as this provide inlet for water.
I was unable to get the call feature to work. I was able to accept a call by short pressing the triangle button on the top of the speaker and I was able to end a call with long pressing the same button. However, my wife had no sound on her end. A call incoming blasts fully out of the speaker with your ring tone. This happened even with my phone on vibrate and sounds turned all the way down. This did not make much sense. My wife was unable to hear me through this device. I tried touching the mute button, turning the sound up. It says in the user manual that it has a built in MIC but this did not pick up sound at all. A quick internet search shows this same speaker with various names on the front. This is confusing.
This is listed as waterproof, it is not waterproof. Rather it should be marketed as splashproof, weatherproof. It is built ruggedly and has great bumpers and appears to be drop proof as well. The sound is okay, with average base. It did okay watching movies that were heavy in talking and instrumental. I could not get the phone call feature to work. The lows were not low enough. I expected more as this device is 13.7 ounces (a hefty weight for hiking). I like the carabiner. The light is acceptable. The buttons are easily accessible along the top of the device. The back access port is easy to access. The slider is hard to move from side to side to turn on. Pairing was easy. In summary, this device really looks neat. I was not initially comfortable with this around a pool or bathtub without at least IP67 rating. This was somewhat of a let down. So, I did something I have never done but always wanted to. I put the speaker in my sink and ran it under both wide spray and jet spray. I left it in there for 3 minutes of direct water stream/pressure. I laid the speaker on its back and filled the top panel with water (not submerged). I then played Braveheart, on Amazon Prime, and was still able to listen to the movie (muffled), but just fine. It was neat to see the speaker vibrations in the water. I then pulled the speaker out of the water, dripped off the extra water and dried it off. Guess what? It worked wonderfully. Honestly, I was really surprised by this test. It may be more waterproof than the ingress protection system (IP) suggests. I rate this device at 3/5 stars.
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