Product review: Divoom AuraBox

When Opensource.com hit 1 million page views back in March, Red Hat bought all of the community moderators a Divoom AuraBox as a token of its appreciation. I’ve been using mine for a little over a month now and I thought I’d share my impression with my ones of readers.

The back of the AuraBox, complete with special Opensource.com branding.

The back of the AuraBox, complete with special Opensource.com branding.

This is a fun toy. The primary function is a speaker (with both Bluetooth and audio jack support), a task it is pretty okay at. I mainly use it to listen to public radio podcasts while I’m washing dishes or baseball games while I’m doing work outside. I have used it for music some, and if your goal is to have sound come out, it works. PC Mag’s review took the AuraBox to task over the sound quality, but I think it’s acceptable. No, it’s not great (though I’m no audiophile), but it works.

The fun part comes in with the LED panel on the front. By itself, the AuraBox can show you the time, temperature, or some pretty patterns. When paired with a phone, the LED panel becomes your own. It will display notification icons for a few select apps (notably and annoyingly, that does not include Google Hangouts), but you can also create your own art. The app supports static or eight-frame animated images on the 10×10 grid. When I first unboxed it, my kids and I had a lot of fun coming up with new images to put on it. I spent more time than I should admit making a train animation.┬áThe grid size, frame count (and fixed rate), and limited color palette constrain what you can display, but it’s still fun.

The front of the AuraBox, displaying my attempt at recreating the Fedora logo.

The front of the AuraBox, displaying my attempt at recreating the Fedora logo.

The internal battery charges via a USB port, which means I can put either my phone or my AuraBox on the charger, whichever one seems to be lower. I haven’t tested the battery life, but I’ve done several hours of use without charging and it hasn’t died on me. The Bluetooth connection seems reliable, though it is a little jarring when you go just out of range and suddenly your pants are talking to you again.

My only complaint (and if anyone from Opensource.com is reading this, please don’t mistake this for a lack of gratitude!) is that it is a completely closed environment. I expect that from consumer technology, but given that it was a gift from a website focused on open source, I’d have hoped for more. If the box had a published API, I can think of several fun things to do.

Still, this is a useful device to have around. If sound quality is your primary focus, this isn’t the device for you. If you just want to listen to things and have a little bit of fun, then I recommend it.

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