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HindustanTimes Thu,24 Apr 2014

Speakers in your backpack

Gagandeep Singh Sapra  New Delhi, May 14, 2012
First Published: 21:34 IST(14/5/2012) | Last Updated: 22:04 IST(14/5/2012)

I love music, and always travel with an iPod. I have music on my phone, my tablet, and a whole lot on my laptop. But sometimes one gets tired of listening on the headphones. And at times one wants to share a song with friends. Of course there are docks and music systems, but with most of them, it means plugging in - and no remote control. But there are ways around this, using Bluetooth technology. Let us look at some alternatives.

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Ultra-portable options http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2012/5/15_05-pg-07.jpg

There are two prime contenders in this segment: Logitiech’s Mini Boom Box (Rs 6,990) and Monster iClarity (HD) at Rs. 8,999.

These are not high quality speakers. If you know your chords and octaves, you may not be very happy with the sound quality. But if the objective is to just share the sound with friends, these work well.

Both facilitate making and receiving cellphone calls. The Logitech microphone appears to not have sufficient reception, but iClarity fares well. Connecting is straight forward, and they pair easily.

On a single charge, the iClarity lasts 4 to 6 hours, and the Logitech Mini Boombox 8 to 10 Hours. Both have 3.5 mm jacks as well.

Weighing under 500 gms, they are highly portable, though not pocket size. They are only upto handling small rooms, though I did use them at a café. Both use a USB cable for charging.

Bigger sound - and bigger size

As the range increases, the price goes up, too. In this league, we have Creative’s Zii Sound D5x costs Rs. 17,999, and Logitech's Wireless Boombox Rs. 12,000.

The D5x is designed as a sound box. You have the option of using it as a master unit, coupling it with 2 slave units and a bass unit to develop a 2.1 setup wirelessly. Since they are wireless, you can put one slave unit in another room, and have the same music playing across the house.

The sound quality is good, but the flipside is, it is not chargable, and one is dependent on wall units for power. The good part is that the D5x also has an iPhone/iPod dock that lets you charge your device and use it as a central Dock.

The Logitech Wireless Boombox is slightly bulkier, and probably the ugly duckling of the lot. It can generate quality sound without emptying your pockets. It also has a battery backup of about six hours. The bass is great, though at higher volumes, distortion does set in.

A room-filling experience

At the top, there are two major offerings and the price difference is huge. The first is the SoundLink Wireless Speaker from Bose (Rs 19,013, LX variant Rs. 23,513).

The other is Beolit 12 from Bang and Olufsen (B&O) at Rs. 70,000. Both are designed to be carried around. The Bose weighs around 1.3kg, and the B&O about 2.8. Both have wall chargers, and upto 8 hours of playback time.

The B&O offers a deeper bass, while the Bose, despite its innocuous size, offers room-filling sound, thanks to the wave guides in it. Both have minimalist design, and produce some great quality sound.

The Bose has a smart cover — close the cover and the unit powers off. The B&O comes with a USB port that you can use to even charge your device. Oh, and B&O is not on Bluetooth, it is on Airplay. That means you can only use it with Apple products. This maybe a put-off, but considering that Airplay is more stable than Bluetooth, and the B&O’s price tag, this may not be such a restriction.

Both offer a 3.5 mm jack option, in case you prefer wires. The B&O has a couple of color options, and will stand out in your living room, but the Bose may be better suited for the bedroom! Both can survive minor water splashes, but are not water-proof. If you are shelling out all that money, maybe it is better not to experiment!

What if..

What if you don’t want to buy a new speaker. Just upgrade your home stereo, with Logitech’s Bluetooth adapter (Rs 3,999). Plug it into your music system, pair it with your MP3 player or phone — and viola! You have a wire- free home. Well, for music at least!

Tech queries

(Gagandeep Sapra is a  technology entrepreneur, who calls himself The Big Geek)

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