iHome Playtough X Bluetooth speakerBluetooth speakers are very popular products. It’s no surprise considering how fun and convenient they are. You can easily play some tunes from your mobile device or computer while lounging at home. They are also portable so you can bring them with you during any sort of activity or gathering. The Playtough X by iHome adds a very useful feature for people that take their music everywhere: water resistance. Read on to find out if this product is ideal for you.

First of all, make sure you check out this short video I filmed documenting my first impressions on the Playtough X Bluetooth speaker.

iHome Playtough X rugged design

Rugged designThe first thing that you notice when you pull the Playtough X out of the box is the solid, rugged design. The front grill is built out of strong plastic. I suspect it would take a pretty big impact to put a dent in it. The top, bottom and sides are covered with a soft, rubberized material that feels great to the touch. This keeps it from easily slipping off of surfaces and reduces the shock from drops. The back features a recessed, sliding carry loop. You can comfortably slip a finger or two to further reduce the risk of dropping the speaker when you carry it. The loop is made of the same soft, rubber material as the rest of the cabinet.

Playtough X controlsA series of 4 buttons is built-in the rubber covering. These include controls for the power, Bluetooth pairing, speakerphone and play/pause. There are no dedicated volume controls. You’ll have to adjust it on the device that’s streaming the audio. Pairing the product is very straightforward, as it is with most similar items. Just hold the Bluetooth button to enter pairing mode and then find the speaker on your music player. You can also answer calls by pressing the speakerphone button. You can also dismiss them by holding it.

The device has a rechargeable battery which is charged through a well-sealed port on the back. The USB cable is included, though you probably have tons of them lying around at this point. iHome, the manufacturer, promises up to 18 hours of continuous use. This is more than enough for a day at the beach.

iHome Playtough X sound emission 

Playtough X carry loopThe sound is emitted by a combination of an active driver and a passive subwoofer. This might lead to a few questions, since active and passive are usually used to designate speakers that require (or not) external amplification. In this particular case, it probably means that the main driver is powered and the subwoofer is triggered through the resulting air pressure in the sealed space inside the unit when the main driver moves. This is a clever design that companies use to offer better and bigger bass response in smaller, wireless units. The total output power is rated at 5 Watts RMS. This amount isn’t much, but it’s more than enough for small to medium rooms.

iHome Playtough X is water resistant

Water is problematic for all kinds of electronics. The delicate components can easily get damaged if it seeps in and your device might stop working. Even if it keeps working, there’s no telling the extent of the effects and corrosion can eventually render your product useless.

Although complete waterproofing isn’t readily available yet, more and more electronics feature some kind of water resistance. There is actually a scale for the amount of protection available. It goes from no resistance to protection from sprays and jets. In some higher resistance ratings, some of them can be even submerged to a certain depth, for a certain amount of time. In the case of the Playtough X, it’s rated at IP46.

Water resistant
The back cover is an integral part of the water resistance

The first digit refers to resistance to solids and 4 means that you won’t get any protection from dust particles. The second is related to water and 6 refers to resistance from high-pressure jets from all directions. It’s important to keep in mind that this is only applicable when all the elements are properly put in place. For example, on the Playtough X, there’s a thick rubber cover over the electrical port for your USB cable. It has to be completely flush and well settled to do its magic properly.

With this type of rating, the speaker is most likely to resist to rain and splashes. For any kind of outdoor activity, a day at the beach or for some tunes by the pool, it’s a great choice. Just make sure you don’t actually go for a swim with it, because it won’t survive being submerged for any length of time.

Sound quality of iHome Playtough X

Playtough X is easy to carryThe Playtough X is very well built. This definitely helps with the quality of the sound, which is usually proportional to the level of workmanship and design. Audio is a bit tricky and manufacturers need to take many things into account to offer a good sounding, compact speaker. For such a small device, it’s surprising to hear the amount of bass frequencies coming out of it. Although it’ll never reach the levels of a subwoofer, it still delivers a lot of character and punch to your music. It’s a lot more satisfying than a simple laptop or a tinny-sounding smart phone.

It’s well suited for most styles, since it performs well over the whole spectrum of sound. I do find it slightly bass heavy. Fans of electronic dance music, hip-hop and heavy styles will probably be quite happy with this model.

Without a doubt, those who like aquatic activities will definitely appreciate the Playtough X. Although it might not be loud enough for big backyards and crowded pool parties, it can still pump out enough volume for a handful of people. It’s also great as a simple home audio device. As any similar product, it’s very easy to connect to and use, making it very convenient in any situation. If you are in the market for a compact, portable speaker, this might be a good investment.

Check out the iHome products on Best Buy’s website.

Nikolai Olekhnovitch
Nikolai Olekhnovitch is a professional guitarist from Montreal. The experience and musical versatility he acquired during his music studies and involvement with diverse musical acts come in quite handy when reviewing various instruments. When he is not on the road performing, he’s exploring martial arts and seeking out the perfect espresso.