Genius SPi150 Speaker Hands-On: Mono Has Never Looked So Cute

Even without opening the package, the Genius SPi150 Speaker’s first flaw was apparent: the lack of a second speaker. Audiophiles look elsewhere. But, its tiny size (3 x 3 x 1.2 inches) and light weight (2.3 ounces), make this a highly portable audio booster for laptops, smart phones, or any device with a headphone jack. For $22.99, you get a 1.25-inch speaker with a 4 ohm metal driver and an 80dB signal-to-noise ratio. Despite our low expectations, the sound output was surprisingly full, and loud enough to fill an average-sized room. First we tested the speaker by plugging it into our BlackBerry's headphone jack. With our BlackBerry’s volume maxed out, listening to Spotlight by Gucci Mane and Usher, we could only sense distortion if we were sitting very close, but the bass is nothing to brag about. Afterward we tested the speakers with a Toshiba Satellite T135D playing Sleep Away by Bob Acri. The speaker matched the volume of the laptop's built-in speaker, and was even a bit louder. However, only hearing sound come from one side of the laptop was distracting.

A single y-shaped cord charges the devices battery via USB on one end while on the other end jacks into the 3mm headphone port for audio. This will prove problematic for those with the audio-out and USB slots on opposite sides of a laptop, such as on the Toshiba Satellite L505 or the Lenovo Thinkpad Edge 14. There’s no volume rocker, so control of the sound must happen on the notebook. We also wish there were a built-in cord wrap. Despite the drawbacks, the extreme portability and low $24.95 price tag make this a good basic option for listening to music with friends and possibly putting a Skype conference call on speaker, but it may not be the best choice for watching a movie.