Portable laptop speakers have come a long way. Gone are plastic-encased towers with their muffled sound, a standby of not so long ago. These days, shoppers will find sleek designs outfitted with wireless connectivity and Bluetooth technology.
Many larger speakers are now equipped with docking stations in the speaker itself, allowing users to play directly from an iPod or mobile phone; some speakers even recharge those devices simultaneously. Smaller speakers are cheaper and more portable, but less powerful, and, given their small size, lacking the extras. Some speakers work better with laptops; others are more appropriate for smart phones or MP3 players.
Of course, this new generation of speakers usually provides listeners with remarkably clear sound -- impressive for devices that are sometimes small enough to fit inside a coat pocket. Loads of wires are also a thing of the past, given that many speakers are now rechargeable and don’t need to be plugged into an electrical outlet while in use; where available, wireless technology can mean not even having to connect to a computer, and on some models, battery life extends upwards of ten hours. By syncing-up with a phone or computer, users can listen to music, play games, and watch films, making on-the-go entertainment more appealing than ever before. Here are some of the best bets for speakers in different price ranges:
TechRadar.com gives these low-cost, cube-shaped speakers a surprisingly good rating for their smart design, reasonable price and bigger-than-expected sound. A good option for movies, music and gaming, though more appropriate for the laptop than the mobile phone or MP3, given a separate USB power source is required. Attaches to a laptop with a provided 3.5mm jack plugged into the headphone socket.
Sound Science QSB (£109 or $175) These mid-range speakers are “highly accomplished” according to reviewers at TechRadar.com, and make for good travel companions given their zip-up pouch. A wise investment for the road warrior who likes to pass the time with films or good music. Most appropriate for laptop use.
Jawbone Jambox (£160 or $255). Fantastic design that syncs with your smart phone thanks to Bluetooth technology. Streams music, but the sound fades out with a call, and with a built-in microphone, the device allows you to answer and talk hands-free.