By Harry McCracken | Friday, June 12, 2009 at 5:45 pm
There’s a surging sea of portable speakers out there for iPods, but ones designed to work well with iPhones are a rarer breed. Which is why I’m impressed with DGA’s Livespeakr, a collapsible, battery-powered speaker setup that was designed with the iPhone in mind and which delivers very good sound quality considering its cost ($99 list in black or white versions; $85 at the Livespeakr site) and size.
Folded up, the Livespeakr is the size of a largish eyeglass case. Insert your iPhone (or iPod Touch, or iPod Classic) and rotate the mounting bracket by 90 degrees, and the two speakers extend slightly to flank the phone, which is in portrait mode and ready to play music or serve as a speakerphone:
Rotate it another 90 degrees and the speakers extend further and the phone ends up in landscape mode, suitable for watching video:
In fact, I liked the Livespeakr best for watching movies and TV shows–with its powerful speakers and adjustable stand, it turns an iPhone into a tiny home theater system that you can take anywhere.
Livespeakr’s sound is impressive; with tracks recorded at high bitrates, it was still quite listenable even when I pumped up the volume as you might at a noisy party. Unlike some portable speaker setups, this one is shielded, so you don’t need to worry about interference degrading audio quality unless you put your iPhone in Airplane Mode. The device has a rechargable battery that runs for 16 hours, according to WGA, and which can be charged via AC or USB,; the iPhone’s dock connector remains accessible so you can recharge your phone without removing it from the speaker.
The only significant gripe I have about the Livespeakr isn’t that significant, and involves the documentation: It appears to assume that understanding how to unfold and extend the speakers’ tiny stand is so simple that it requires no explanation. I could have used a sentence or two of instruction. (I’m always fearful about forcing a moving part in a way it’s not supposed to be forced and snapping it off.)
I used the Livespeakr with my iPhone 3G, but it will presumably work equally well with the 3G S when it goes on sale next week. Spealking of which, has anyone given Apple the praise it richly deserves for finally shipping an upgraded device with an unchanged case that ensures compatibility with all existing accessories?