gadget of the month
With the first decade of the twenty-first-century behind us, it is just a matter of time before we are all listing to music by way of a chip implanted behind our ears, but for now the iPod seems to be the nearly universal delivery system. Although the advertisements suggest that we should all be dancing silhouettes, rocking out via white earbuds to the sound of our different drummers, there are limits to how practical this actually is.
Comfort is an issue, and so is sociability. There are few things in life more annoying than speaking to someone—usually one of our kids—and discovering, after having conveyed an elaborate set of instructions about a critical errand, that they have not heard a word because they are listening to Bono instead. Throughout history music has been meant to be enjoyed with others, and this reality means that a thriving industry has developed in the field of iPod speaker systems. What makes the Livespeakr nice is its portability—it folds into a compact unit, and has a re-chargeable lithium ion battery.
The sound quality is better than respectable, although you won’t be getting complaints from the neighbors because it’s too loud. The cradle where the iPod nestles rotates (iPhones, iPod Touch, and iPod Classic will all fit, too), so if you have a touch device it will work in both portrait and landscape, which is unusual in this sort of thing. We’d like it better if it powered the iPod, but it doesn’t do that even if it is plugged into the wall. That limits its overall usefulness, but we’ve found that it’s fine for all kinds of occasions when an impromptu party breaks out away from home. We also liked it as a bedroom music system, precisely because it isn’t too loud, so that our kids can’t claim they don’t hear us when we call up to them to take out the garbage. $79.99. www.livespeakr.com.