Kicker may be best known for its car stereo products, and for good reason: they own a sizeable chunk of the aftermarket car stereo market. But the company's latest product takes things beyond the car or truck: way beyond. The latest entry into the company's "lifestyle products" category is a rugged heavy duty powered wireless Bluetooth speaker capable of taking on the harshest elements while gleefully pumping out high decibel full range music and sound.
The Bullfrog Jump ($399.95) is expected to begin shipping in mid-September but we got a look and a listen to a couple of prototypes at a press event in New York City earlier this week. The Jump is planned to be the largest entry in the upcoming Bullfrog wireless speaker series with smaller, less expensive models (Bullfrog Hop and Bullfrog Skip) to follow later this year.
The Bullfrog Jump weighs in at about eight pounds, can play for up to about 20 hours on a single charge to its internal rechargeable battery. It can even charge your cell phone or tablet if you start running low on juice. The Jump features active 4-inch drivers and passive 3x4 inch passive subwoofers on each side for maximum sound dispersion inside and out.
The Bullfrog Jump will be available in two color options - green/black (ribbit!) and grey/white. The speaker accepts Bluetooth and analog line inputs and can be daisy-chained or used as a stereo pair in case you need even greater volume or want to enjoy a real stereo soundstage on the go. Company reps say they have tested a stereo pair of Jumps connected to a phone via Bluetooth with each speaker 100 feet away from the phone, so range should not be too much of an issue.
As far as holding up against the elements goes, the Bullfrog Jump is rated IP66 so it's virtually impervious to dust, dirt, mud, rolling boulders and other solid materials and can withstand a fair amount of moisture as well, even a high pressure jet of water (or some other liquid). It isn't meant to be used underwater, but rainstorms, food and drink spills, or the occasional splash should not be any cause for concern. In fact, the company says it's fine to douse it with a hose when cleaning. To prove that point, the company immersed one of their prototypes under a portable camp shower and showed that it still played music without missing a beat.
So if you like to play in the mud, bring the Bullfrog along. And then you can both get clean by showering together afterwards (note: check for legal implications in your state before trying this at home).
Unlike most of its competition, the Bullfrog Jump includes a built-in FM tuner. So if you're having trouble pulling in the ball game over a weak cellular or WiFi signal, or there's a big delay in streaming, you can always tune it in old-school-style over the radio. With the standard 3.5mm auxilliary line input, you can connect it to a TV, a portable media player, even your old WalkMan. Your classic mix tapes from the 80s have never sounded so good!
Although the unit can be used standalone, and includes all of the basic controls, the company will also launch a companion app for iOs and Android that will allow users to control the volume remotely and perform more advanced functions.
As for where the new Bullfrog speakers will be sold, the company plans to target non-traditional retailers such as RV dealers and outdoor supply stores - places where the store's existing customers would be likely to enjoy an active outdoor lifestyle - as well as more traditional CE online and brick and mortar retailers. Expect the Bullfrog Jump to bounce its way onto the scene in September, 2016.