Gear On The Go

August 23, 2009|By Scott L. Powers | Scott L. Powers,Tribune Newspapers

Sharing the music

Name: : Livespeakr

What it is: : A portable folding speaker system for all generations of the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPod Classic.

How it works: : From a compact 7-inch-by-2-inch unit with an adjustable cradle for Apple's media players, Livespeakr can expand to landscape mode for watching videos or twist to portrait mode for music or speakerphone use. An aluminum stand elevates the plastic speaker case so you can charge the player while using it.

The good: : Almost all my music listening is done via my iPhone's iTunes program through high-end, in-ear headphones, but these little tykes overcame most of the tinny highs and nonexistent lows many ultraportable systems are cursed with. I could crank up the volume to entertain a small group, and even the rumbling ultralow bass from Alice in Chains' "Rain When I Die" did not rattle the speakers at top volume. The Rubik's Cube-like twist and turn system was quite flexible, once I figured out how it worked. Manufacturer DGA claims the rechargeable Li-ion battery lasts as long as 16 hours, and none of my testing indicated anything different. It also comes with an AC adapter.

The bad: : In the end, it's still an ultra-portable, battery-powered speaker system. Sound-quality compromises are unavoidable. You can't use it as a boombox, and for the same money, earphones provide better sound, but for only one set of ears. Printed instructions were too general, forcing me to go online (livespeakr.com) to figure out how to set it up.

Retail cost: : $99.99 (plus shipping)

Availability: : At livespeakr.com or 888-DGLIVE4 and amazon.com

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