The iPad makes an almost perfect portable media player; big, bright screen, great interface and a speedy processor. Wahay. Problem is, it’s hard to jam a decent speaker, let alone two, into that svelte aluminum shell — the result is sound from anemic speaker with volume that won’t top a moderately loud tea party.
Luckily there’s no shortage of auxiliary speakers available, and Logitech’s Tablet Speaker for iPad ($50) is one of the simplest, least expensive and most portable.
It’s a pretty simple device: a tube almost the length of an iPad (on the tall end) with a pair of speakers, a power switch, LED lights that indicate power or charging status, a mini-USB port for charging, a standard stereo jack and a large clip for mounting the speaker onto the side of an iPad. While clipped on it’ll double as a stand for the iPad, propping it up at a shallow angle similar to that achieved by Apple’s Smart Cover.
It’s ultra-portable. The little tube is light and slim, and easily plops into a backpack, satchel or even a purse — if the tube’s length isn’t an obstacle. It also comes with its own nylon carrying bag. It’s also got stamina. Logitech claims eight hours of sound before the battery dies; I was able to watch about four full-length movies before the battery gave in, so that seems about right.
Using it provides a hearty sound boost, especially for watching movies. For instance, I could hear movie dialog above the din outside a semi-peaceful cafe — something the iPad’s internal speaker failed at. It wasn’t loud, but it was good enough. It was ideal for things like streaming news or talk radio through the iPad where it was quieter, like at home.
It’s not a good portable speaker for music, like say Altec Lansing’s iMT320 InMotion Compact for the iPhone — the speakers simply aren’t large or powerful enough to provide decent bass, so music ends up sounding anemic, flat and ultimately unsatisfying.
Yes, the battery is long-lasting, but it also took about seven hours to charge.
That it doesn’t have decent sonic oomph was kind of expected from the small speakers; not expected, however, was how annoying it was to get the thing to stay put on my iPad when it was resting on the tube. I had to be very careful about shifting it or it’d pop off; using it on anything other than a flat surface was also a problem. Using it with the iPad in the taller angle (supported by a stand, or against an object) worked well though.
A party-in-a-boomtube this isn’t, and getting it to actually stay attached is tricky; But it excels at ultra-portable audio for anything except tunes.