It was sitting there in the store window as I went to purchase my Apple Magic Mouse (which I sold again the day after for half the price…), and I’ve been thinking of getting a small battery-driven speaker for my iPhone. Just to try it out, I guess.
This one, Exspect USB pop-up speaker, was listed at €15 ($20), so it’s rather cheap and also quite small (50x55mm). It has a 3.5mm jack input so it will fit pretty much anything you can throw at it. It’s powered by an internal li-ion battery which recharges via USB in around 2-4 hours, as I understand.
It comes with 2 cables, a short 3.5mm jack cable and a USB cable to charge it with. It’s a really simple device, having just 1 button with three functions: Off, Volume #1 and Volume #2. It’s a 2 tier volume control.
For you audio geeks out there, the frequency response is 100Hz-20KHz and 2.4W RMS power. I don’t know much about these numbers, but at least now you know.
So how is it? Well, compared to the built-in MacBook Pro speakers, it’s not worth much. But I didn’t buy it to function as a desktop speaker either. Compared to the iPhone, it sure does a better job at signing my tunes than the built-in iPhone speaker does. Sometimes I hear the speaker crackle a bit, but only in between songs or when something is not playing. Why, I don’t know. Maybe there’s a bad connection in the rather poor 3.5mm cable?
I don’t know for how long the battery will last, but I’ve been running it three nights in a row at a total of maybe 8-10 hours now, and no indication yet whether or not it needs a recharge. There’s only one light, a blue LED, which is on when the speaker is on. I don’t know if the blue light has other functions than that.
Oh yeah, it smells funny too. When smelling the speaker (don’t ask me why I put my nose so close to it that I could smell it!), I noticed this “electronic smell”, you know? Not as bad as when you blew up the power supply for your 50watt CB radio amplifier back in the 90’s, though.
I’m rating it 3 out of 5 apples. On the plus side, it’s small, seems to hold a charge pretty well, it’s cheap and it does sound better than most cellphone speakers. On the bad side, the build quality doesn’t seem too good, the cable quality seems extremely low and overall quality is questionable. It’s also very prone to cellphone signals, so don’t keep it too close to your phone or your music will have funny noises every now and then.
Knowing what I now know about the Exspect USB 3.5mm pop-up speaker, I would probably have went with either the Sony Compact and Slim Travel Speaker for iPod and MP3 Players at $22 or the perhaps even better choice, Altec Lansing iM-237 Orbit Ultraportable Speaker for MP3 Players at $28.
By the way – I shot all the Exspect speaker pictures myself with my Nikon D5000 and SB-600 flash. It took almost a 100 pictures and the 4 pictures above were the ones that came out best. I know, I know, I put a lot of effort into a 500 word review of a $20 product – but that’s just me 🙂