iFrogz, a company that many people may be familiar with as a seller of phones cases & earphones, has a relatively new speaker out called Boost. Unlike most of its mobile device, speaker cousins, the Boost does not need to be docked, does not connect over your network or WiFi, does not need to be paired with Bluetooth, you do not need any cables and there is absolutely no set-up whatsoever.
So how does it play? After a week of extensive research, the best I can come up with is Witchcraft.
One simply places their mobile phone or MP3 player right on the Boost, and the audio signal is picked up and transmitted through the speakers.
The Basics What you get is a small, portable speaker “system” that contains a pair of 2W speakers and is powered either by AA batteries or charged by a Micro USB port. The stylish and attractive design only includes a power button, a small indicator light and an Audio Line-In jack for those devices (laptop) that will not work by placing your device on top as it is designed to do.
How does it work? You simply power the device on and it goes into a “stand-by” mode where it waits for audio to be detected by its so-called “Near Field Audio” system. Apparently, the Boost can last on battery power for six months in standby mode so there’s not much harm in leaving it on all the time waiting for tunes. When you are so inclined, simply place your mobile device on the platform on top of the Boost, and instantly your music is thumping and playing from the Boost. There’s no pairing, no setup, and nothing else to do.
Let me repeat:
1> Turn Boost On
2> Put phone on Boost
It really is that simple. Talk about a product without a need to Read the F*&*ing Manual.
How much does this Witchcraft cost? Pretty cheap actually. I got mine from Amazon for $30 which is pretty reasonable for what you get. Oddly, when I went to iFrogz site itself to buy from there, they were $10 more at $40 but they were currently sold-out.
How does it sound? Amazingly good. It’s great for listening casually to music when you don’t want to use headphones or when you are at your desk and need to stream something like Spotify or Pandora. It certainly has the volume to fill a small room and even entertain a group of people. Obviously don’t expect it to supply music for a big party or do any critical listening on it. However, this is a great device for a handful of friends who each want to play a couple of tracks: simply pick up one device and lay the other down. Similarly, not a bad way to put someone on speaker phone and boost the volume to have more people able to listen.
I ran through a whole bunch of different types of music ranging from Pink Floyd to Willie Nelson and was pretty impressed with what the small device could do. Vocals were crisp, and there was quite a bit of bass when needed. I was able to increase the volume relatively loud before it started to get distorted.
Overall, I am pretty pleased with the sound quality. Obviously, it will not sound as good as something like the Jambox which I previously reviewed. Then again, at that price of $199, I was pretty disappointed in the sound quality. (On the other end of the spectrum: This sounds a WORLD better than the similarly priced Boombox type of speakers that are really more of toy than anything.)
Any drawbacks? Every once in a while, when listening and there was either a long pause between tracks or pause in the music (Divided Sky, I’m looking at you!), the Boost would take a moment to recognize that music was playing again and a split-second of the succeeding track would be clipped. Only happens sporadically and it’s really not much of a problem.
Again, remember that you are not getting high-fidelity here and the sound is comparable to what you might expect from other $25-$50 wired desktop speakers.
Anything else I should know? You’ll be able to get about 15 hours of music playing if running off of the batteries. The Boost is not a power hog so even sporadic charging from the USB cable should give you relatively decent life and playing without worrying about running out of juice.
Careful of the exposed speaker cones, one errant grab and a thumb through the speaker might render your device useless.
I tested the Boost with a Galaxy SII, an iTouch, an iPhone 3G and a pay-as-you-go cheap Android Dart. They all worked perfectly.
Hidden Track Technology Tuesday
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