Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Mobile Media -Portable Speaker Solutions for Smartphones

Spotify's Premium service extended the possibility (and popularity) of having all of your music available when and how you want it via your smartphone. For avid travellers (more and more of us) having a decent speaker solution to listen to your media (whether from your iPad, smartphone or laptop) when you are away from home is more and more important.

I had the pleasure of testing Vibe-Tribe's Troll and Troll 2.0 (pictured above) products recently and was impressed with the step forward portable speakers have made. But, first things first. 

The Troll (pictured below and priced EUR 59) is a portable speaker that connects via a USB cable to your media device and can be operated with a remote control. It includes a FM radio (ingeniously, the USB cable acts as antenna). 

The speaker weighs 330g and the output power is 3W. This is where the clever part comes. The Troll range uses patented vibration resonance technology (initially developed for the US Navy) that dramatically boosts the sound output from the speakers. The base of the speaker transmits the vibration emitted to the surface and object below, effectively converting the object below it into its own sub-woofer. Place the Troll on wood, and you get the bass sounds. Place it on glass, and you get the crisp high tones. I tried different surfaces, and what worked best was a wooden cupboard. The hollow interior created a rounded stereo effect to the sound. One word of warning: the Troll works using vibration. This means the speaker moves little by little. Watch out, or it can drop from the surface if placed on the edge.

The Troll 2.0 (priced EUR 89) has greater power output (10W) and comes with Bluetooth. I found the Troll 2.0 to be my favourite- connecting my iPhone via Bluetooth was very convenient, as the phone acted as a better remote than an infra-red since the Bluetooth doesn't need line-of-sight. But what about the sound you ask? The Troll speakers have a circumference of 5cm and a height of 5 cm. This is small. However, given the size, the speakers do a great job. Sure, you get sound distortion at high volumes but at medium volumes this is barely perceptible. Playback on movies works great and really helps convert your movie/viewing experience on your tablet or laptop.

Plenty of attention to detail has gone into Vibe-Tribe's speakers, and the quality of the packaging helps create a great first impression (see photo below).

 You can see a demo video at this link to see the products in action and hear their sound (Note: Video is in Italian): Vibe-Tribe Video. All in all, a recommended buy if you are looking for a mobile media speaker solution with a great price to quality ratio.