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TUAW Review: Livespeakr


Last year we reported that Livespeakr, an innovative set of speakers for iPhone, would soon begin looking for a manufacturing partner. In the latter portion of the year, we were suprised to learn that the Livespeakr would begin shipping as soon as January 2009 -- which they did. We now have our hands on this awesome portable speaker system for iPhone/iPod, and it doesn't disappoint.

The Design
The Livespeakr features what the creator call a "super cradle" that will fit not only the original iPhone, but also the iPod Classic, iPhone 3G, iPod Touch and iPod Touch 2G. This cradle rotates 180º to enable both landscape and portrait usage from the iPhone/iPod touch. Behind the super cradle lies the male audio jack which plugs into your device. The cradle can be popped off to reroute the cable for either iPhone or iPod use.

When you rotate the cradle 180º the speakers will expand so that the cradle is not blocking the speaker grilles. When you return it to the 90º position, the speakers will retract back into place.

The top of the Livespeakr is plain, only offering an on/off switch, small LED, and mini-USB port. The Livespeakr is made out of shiny black plastic that resembles the 5th generation black iPod (with video). On the back you will find a small flap that pops out -- this is actually the stand. While you can't adjust the height with the stand, you can adjust the angle that it swings back or forward. The metal stand has rubber feet so the unit won't slide while you use it.

What you get with Livespeakr
When you order a Livespeakr, you'll get not only the Livespeakr itself, but also a USB-to-AC adapter that will allow you to charge the unit on the go. You'll also get a USB to mini-USB cable, and a carrying case for the speakers and the charger.

Functionality
These speakers greatly improve on the built-in speaker that is on the iPhone. When I plugged in the speakers for the first time, I was astonished that such a big sound was produced by such a small speaker system -- it reminds me of having a miniature iPhone boom-box. While these speakers are a little light on the bass side of things, I found that by adjusting the equalizer on the iPhone/iPod, I could drastically improve on the sound quality.

The nice thing about the Livespeakr is that the speakers themselves are shielded against RF (Radio Frequency) noise. So, you can listen to your tunes without either switching the iPhone into Airplane Mode, or having to hear your iPhone search for a 3G signal and getting the incessant buzzing sound associated with it.

The Livespeakr features a rechargeable lithium-ion (Li-Ion) battery that I had very good luck with. In my testing, I was able to squeeze a week of 1-2 hour per day uses of it.

Final Thoughts
I really enjoyed using the Livespeakr and seeing how far it has come along since I first looked at the schematics of it last year. I could definitely see taking the Livespeakr on vacation to the beach, or just a swim at the pool. In addition, this small speaker set can be used as a speaker phone on your desk.

While some might say the $129.99 (US) price tag is a little high, I would have to disagree due to the portability and usability of the speakers. The Livespeakr is actually on sale right now, so you can actually get them $30-off for a sale price of $99.99(US).

You can check out the speakers in a little more detail on the Livespeakr website; you can also order them from their site. Be sure to check out our gallery of pictures of the Livespeakr.

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