Looks like we’ve got a busy summer coming up. We’ve already had the Queen’s Jubilee, with the Olympics to follow and the usual collection of mud-swamped music festivals. Alternatively, you might decide to escape all that enforced jollity and just hop on a plane in search of some sunshine, sea and sand.
Wherever you end up, the chances are that you’ll want to listen to some music along the way, so we decided to take a look at some of the latest travel speakers that you can take with you. We asked six top manufacturers to send us backpack-friendly speakers that you could easily carry around with you, and which will run off batteries so that you can take them outdoors too.
We received a variety of widely differing models, ranging from from JBL’s pocket-sized OnTour Micro, right up to Logitech’s chunky-yet-portable S715i. The smaller speakers obviously couldn’t match the power of their larger rivals, yet we were still surprised by the attractive sound produced by ultra-compact models such as iHome’s iDM12. There was a good range of different features too, with rechargeable batteries, Bluetooth wireless, and even an iPad stand featuring in the line-up.
Altec Lansing iMT630
Altec Lansing has several sets of travel speakers in its inMotion range, but the iMT630 is the most recent addition to the range and has perhaps the best overall sound.
Gear4 StreetParty III Union Jack
Gear4’s marketing people obviously spotted an opportunity here, releasing this Union Jack edition of its popular StreetParty speakers just in time for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics. At just £39.99 the Union Jack obviously isn’t top-of-the-range but – as the name implies – it’ll do the trick if you want to have a few drinks outdoors during the summer.
Griffin Travel Speaker
Griffin’s compact little Travel Speaker isn’t powerful enough for an outdoor party, but it’s a handy option if you just want to listen to some music in a hotel room or when you’re lounging beside the pool on holiday.
We weren’t expecting much from such a compact little speaker, but the iDM12 turns out to be cleverly designed and produces a surprisingly strong sound.
JBL On Tour Micro
Is that a speaker in your pocket or are you just glad to see me? Thankfully, it turns out to be just a speaker – the On Tour Micro from JBL.
Logitech Rechargeable Speaker S715
It’s bigger, heavier and more expensive than any of its rivals, but Logitech’s S715i is an impressive travel speaker.
There are three distinct size categories here. At the ‘ultraportable’ end of the spectrum there are models such as the JBL On Tour Micro and iHome iDM12 that really can fit into your pocket. The iDM12 is the more expensive of the two, but it produces a surprisingly robust sound and gets extra points for a clever design that somehow manages to squeeze an iPad stand into your pocket.
The next step up includes the paperback-sized StreetParty from Griffin, and Griffin Travel Speaker, both of which will fit into the glove compartment of your car. These are certainly better than using the speakers on a laptop computer, and will be fine for modest outdoor get together with friends, but they don’t have the firepower to really get things going.
For that, you’ll need something a little larger, such as the iMT630 from Altec Lansing and Logitech’s S715i. The iMT630 is certainly backpack-friendly, costs less than £100 and produces an attractive sound with enough volume for an impromptu outdoor boogie. If you’re on tight budget then you won’t go wrong with the iMT630. However, we reckon it’s worth stretching to £129 for the S715i. It’s a bit bigger and heavier, but produces a strong sound with enough volume and bass to ensure that it will earn its keep both on the road and back at home.