Other than its design, the Zooka is fairly minimalist. On the side opposite the slot, there is a power button with an LED indicator, volume down/up buttons and a button to pair Bluetooth connections (which is also used to pause music and to connect/disconnect a phone call). There is also a 3.5mm AUX audio-in jack and a single micro-USB-to-USB cable (a rather short one, at that -- only about 12 in.).
Even the documentation is minimal; you get a small card that shows (with pictures) how to turn the Zook on and start the Bluetooth connection. If you need any more directions, you have to go to the website.
The Zooka's casing is made of a smooth, soft-to-the-touch plastic and is available in nine different colors. According to the company, each charge provides up to 8 hours of play time.
How did it sound?
Unfortunately, while the Zooka has a nicely innovative design, its audio wasn't up to the quality of the other three speakers in this roundup. While the sound was fairly well equalized, it wasn't nearly as strong, clear or full as the others, and a lot of the subtleties of the music were lost. Of course, this is the least expensive speaker of the four reviewed here, so you're not going to get the same audio quality as something twice the cost.
As a speakerphone, the Zooka didn't really work well. There were so many digital drop-outs that sometimes I didn't understand what my caller was saying, and she reported some issues at her end as well. In short, it would only be useable for quick, emergency calls; most users would probably need to move to their phones for longer conversations.
The Zooka offers a reasonable sound and has an innovative design that could make it a fun gift for iPad owners. But if you're at all picky about your audio quality, you might want to spend a few more bucks for something a bit better.
7.5 x 2.8 x 2.0 in. Weight: 21.1 oz. Price: $149.99
The Switch from Native Union looks, at first glance, nearly featureless: When standing the 7.5 x 2.8 x 2.0 in. rectangular device on one end (it can be played either standing upright or on its side), the only external feature that stands out is a volume control on one end.
Native Union Switch
That volume control -- an oversized circle that surrounds the power on/off button -- gives the otherwise modernistic device an old-fashioned touch.
Most of the other controls are hidden under a discreet door on one edge of the speaker: a micro-USB port for powering the speaker; an Aux line-in; a speaker/mic line out and a USB port that you can use to power other devices (a handy addition that the others in this roundup didn't have). The device's three speakers are behind a grille that covers one full side.