But crank the volume is what you're meant to do with the Beatbox. As we said, it plays loud--real loud--and it holds together nicely at high volumes. Dance club in your apartment? This will deliver that kind of experience with a minimal amount of equipment.
That said, the treble is aggressive and sizzly (high-end instruments like cymbals are really accentuated). Or, to put it another way, the sound is lively and exciting (sometimes referred to as "bright"), which may seem really good at first, but after an hour or so of listening, some folks might find it a little too lively.
And that's really the Beatbox in a nutshell: lots of aggressive sound from a small box.
Comparatively speaking, we got better sound from the Audioengine 5 powered speakers, which are a little less expensive but aren't nearly as portable (they are separate speakers). They also don't have an iPod dock built into the speaker, though they can charge your iPod/iPhone via a USB port while your portable device is connected to the speakers via a headphone jack.
Another alternative for half the price is the Altec Lansing Mix iMT800, which also plays loud, and has an FM radio and a battery option, so it's a truly portable unit. That said, the Beatbox is a little more compact, looks sleeker, and plays a little louder.
In the end, the Beatbox is designed to appeal to a certain type of buyer, and it does what it's supposed to do very well. If you're someone who doesn't envision playing your music very loud all that often, this probably is overkill and not for you. But if you're looking for a little box that can kick it--and you're willing to pay a hefty premium for it--the Beatbox should make your short list.
Editors' note: Freelancer Steve Guttenberg contributed to this review.