So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
- Can be powered or battery operated, sound-widening effect, good volume levels, reasonably impressive sound quality for small speakers, subwoofer and video-out ports
- Flimsy stand, can't play video from the latest generation of devices
For such a small set of speakers the Creative TravelSoundi has quite a voice. We like the video-out and subwoofer additions, plus the ability to connect any iPod or other audio device. More so, the sound-widening is very impressive.
Price$ 149.95 (AUD)
Not even Creative is foolish enough to lock itself out of the iPod market, even if it does have a competing player. It's no surprise, therefore, to see a portable Creative iPod speaker system vying for all those 'iDollars'.
The Creative TravelSoundi is a one-piece, portable stereo iPod speaker that offers a similar experience to Logitech's Pure-Fi Anywhere, including a remote control and support for any iPod product using the current standard connector (up to and including the iPod iPod nano (3rd Generation) and the iPod iPod touch), plus the addition of virtual sound-widening and video output for video-supported iPod products.
For such a small speaker system, the Creative TravelSoundi does a fairly impressive job of producing sharp mid-range sounds, as well as clear and punchy low and high-end sounds. We were able to pump the volume up to extremely loud levels, and were pleased by the lack of distortion at all but the loudest volumes.
Although we wouldn't recommend buying this device unless you have an iPod product, you can also hook up any other sound source, such as another MP3 player, using a 3.5mm line-in port on the back of the unit. Also located on the rear is a composite video-out port. This allows you to use the video-out feature on video-supported iPod products. The video-out feature does not seem to work, as the speakers were not designed with the newer iPod Nano Gen 3, or the iTouch, in mind. However, using a 5th generation iPod worked perfectly well on our Samsung SyncMaster 245B.
We were also very impressed by the sound-widening feature. With the press of a button the speakers go into wide-sound mode, which spreads the sound over a wider sound-scape, giving the impression that the speakers are further apart. As an unexpected side effect, this feature also seems to boost the high-end frequencies.
There are no equaliser controls, which is a disappointment, but there is volume and a mute button. The docking area has swappable rubber back-plates of various thickness to accommodate the different iPod designs, and the only difficulty we had with the fit was getting smaller products like the Nano Gen 3 out of the holster. One other concern was with the stand, which is a little flimsy. On more than one occasion the stand was knocked back in while fiddling with cables, face-planting our precious scratch-sensitive iPods into the table. Although a power adapter can be used to connect the device to permanent power it will also run off of four AA batteries.
The remote control is easy to use and our only caveat with it would be that there is no holster for it when it's not in use. If you plan to use this system as a bit of a home stereo system, which it could do to a degree, you'll be pleased with the subwoofer output.
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