JBL On Tour Micro
Despite its solo driver, the JBL On Tour Micro doesn’t deserve to be frowned out of stereo town. So while there’s no audio seperation or booming bottom end, this dinky 3cm-deep bleep box commands a clear, neutral and not insignificant sound – more than can be said for the speaker in your phone or laptop. Charged via USB, it’ll pump out around six hours of tunes on a full battery.
iLuv ISP120 Sport
Given the piddly price tag, iLuv's AAA-powered ISP120 Sport should, by rights, sound pretty feeble. Instead, this robust speaker-come-phone case turns out to be one of the loudest and most natural sounding products here. Vocal reproduction is especially impressive and there's hardly any distortion, even when wound up to the max. It’ll also cocoon your kit against any holiday mishaps. Well, it might.
X-Mini II Capsule Speaker
This squeezebox-style mono pod punches well above its weight. Despite having just one 40mm speaker, the X-Mini II produces a full-bodied sound that belies its diminutive size. What's more, it'll go on playing for around 11 hours on a single charge and can even be daisychained with other X-Minis to broaden the sound – handy for that impromptu beach party.
The rechargeable Chill Pill works on the same expandable concertina principle as that of the X-Mini, except it comes as a stereo pair of two-inch domed speakers that magnetically click together for easy transport. The cabling is all housed in the body, and though the sound is a trifle thin and prone to mild distortion, the Chill Pill is a worthy contender if you must have stereo.
Logic 3 iStation Rotate
When it comes to oomph, size really does matter. This battery/mains-powered Apple docker is chunky but still small enough for travel. Although designed to accommodate iThings, the iStation Rotate comes with an aux input for other audio sources. Even if you fail to appreciate the rich, warm, room-filling sound that radiates from the Logic 3’s pair of two-way speakers, you’ll find the ingenious swivel dock handy for watching TOWIE in your hotel room.
Wowee One Slim
Along with its tiny tweeter, the phone-sized Wowee Slim also has a mini sub-woofer that emits an almost inaudible bottom end growl that causes it to literally shake in your hand. But position this clever gel-backed box of trickery on the right kind of surface – a wooden chair, glass table, etc – and the bass suddenly comes alive. The top end distorts if the volume's wound up too much, but you'd be hard pressed to find a bigger sounding speaker packed into this small a box.
Sony's flair for minimalist design is very much to the fore with this classy-looking 10W iPhone speaker dock. A single charge will keep it pumping for over five hours – pretty impressive for the beef on offer. Normal mode sounds a bit dull, to be honest, but flick it into 'extra bass' or 'spatial' mode and it starts to sing.
Geneva Sound System Model XS
Don’t be put off by the Geneva’s price. The most expensive dock here is also in a class of its own. Even the old-fashioned alarm clock-style case feels a million dollars and that's before you've discovered there's an FM radio, alarm clock and external mini-jack on board too. Shame there’s no holiday insurance thrown in.
Gear4 StreetParty Size O
With its brightly coloured liveries, Gear4's ultra skinny but big-hearted stereo unit is clearly aimed at the teenage iPod set. It's more cheaply constructed than online pictures suggest, but it dishes out a commendably loud, bright sound and doesn't distort unless pushed to the limit. It's not particularly bassy but that's to be expected given its 16mm depth – about the thickness of two iPhones.
Yes, it’s cutesy, but can the boomCAN really live up to its big-talking name when it’s a good half inch smaller than the X-Mini? The tiny rechargeable cylindrical mono speaker performs well when presented with sparsely-arranged acoustic-orientated genres like folk and classical but, like a mid-60s Dylan fan, it starts to protest when you throw in some electric guitars and big drums.
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