Traveling with Tunes
May 6, 2011 | Permalink
Thanks to MP3 players and smartphones, bringing your favorite music with you when you travel is easy. But as personal electronics have improved, our expectations have also grown. Sometimes you want to remove the ear buds and kick back in your hotel room or share some tunes while visiting with family and friends. Time to pull out the portable speakers and docks! While admittedly the finest sound is found in larger speakers, convenient travel-sized speakers can provide clarity far beyond what the music players themselves offer and, often, for quite reasonable costs.
Super Budget-Conscious Speakers
If you want a speaker that gives good sound, but that you won’t have to worry about having to protect a pricey investment (say you’ll be taking it to the beach), you might want to snag the DB Portable Foldable Speakers for MP3 Players. Available online from several merchants at the amazing price of under $5, this little speakers’ dock (folded size: 4” x 2 ½” x 2 ½”) can run on four AAA batteries or the included USB cable and consistently gets four-star reviews from consumers. Almost as inexpensive (about $10) and absolutely tiny (3.5" x 3/4” x ¾”) is the blue Lego-style iPod Brick. It works with iPhones, too, and it doesn’t require batteries. Instead, it draws power from the player itself.
A Bit More Style, a Bit More Sound
For about $25, you can get a bit more style and sound with the Altec Lansing iM-237 Orbit Ultraportable Speaker, which comes in its own case and has a convenient wrap-around cord. The round speaker provides 360-degree sound, can run for up to 24 hours on three AAA batteries (longer than most battery-operated speakers), and also gets high 4-star-plus reviews from users. And, if you also want something with a big-time cuteness factor, consider the Panda Pal at about $25. The little three-inch round panda face has dual speakers in it and runs off your choice of USB connection or three AAA batteries. It’s compatible with any device (phone, laptop, MP3) that accepts a 3.5mm headphone jack.
If you’re most comfortable with a name-brand you recognize and don’t want to deal with batteries or power drain on your device, Sony has a folding portable speaker that runs around $20. This device is what’s called a “passive speaker,” meaning no actual amplification, yet it still produces more volume and sound quality than the internal speakers of most cell phones or MP3’s—and the big plus is that it requires neither batteries nor a power cord.
Laptop Uses, Too!
Having good portable speakers can also be a big plus if you want to watch movies on your laptop or if your business travel includes PowerPoint presentations with embedded videos. All too often, the speakers in a laptop lack sufficient projection ability for a large room. A speaker like Brookstone’s Ultra-Thin Travel Speaker connects easily via the 3.5 mm cable (included) to any laptop, and its folded size (5” x 6” x ¾”) lets you slide it into your laptop sleeve or case. Reviewers note that the AAA batteries are fairly long-lasting, too.
When choosing your travel speakers, remember that the smaller the speakers, the more likely you’ll find sound distortion at higher volumes. So if you want the speakers for travelling party time, you may need to get the slightly larger models. For in-room background and relaxation music, many of the very small and economical speakers will still give you far superior sound to what your MP3, phone or laptop provides.
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