The Gadget: The Livespeakr iPod/iPhone dock, which twists and contorts to support your device in either portrait or landscape mode.
The Price: $130
The Verdict: Somewhat surprisingly, this has to be one of the best portable iPhone speaker systems I’ve ever tested. It’s far from perfect, and probably a little expensive, but it’s incredibly portable and sound quality is fantastic for such a compact device.
On the front part of the speaker is a slide-in bracket for your iPod or iPhone, which is a very custom fit, so you’ll need to take off any case or cover you use regularly. The bracket can be detached – and a 3.5mm headphone cable behind runs in a groove one way for using the Livespeakr with an iPhone and another way for using an iPod. There’s no dock, so you can’t charge your device at the same time as listening to your music, but then again there’s no mains power option for the speaker anyway.
On the back of the speaker is a really solid and compact kick stand, with different height settings depending on how your iPod is oriented. Because of the way it’s designed, you can’t mix up which setting to put it on – if you’ve got it on the wrong one, it will probably overbalance.
Rotating the dock between portrait and landscape is extremely satisfying as the speakers extend out past the width of the device. The build feels really solid, like you could do it over and over again and never have to worry about it breaking.
Sound quality is great for such a little device. It’s a bit light on the bass, which isn’t surprising given its size, but there’s very little distortion at maximum volume, which is a bit of a surprise. Battery life lasted me all week with moderate use, and it just charges over USB.
I would love to see a version with an AC adapter and a dock, as well as a slightly better way of storing the iPod’s bracket – it sticks out a fair way from the speaker, and it seems to me like a more elegant solution wouldn’t be too hard to come up with. But overall, I was really impressed by the Livespeakr. I’ll definitely have one in my bag next time I travel.