Genius SP-i202U USB 2.0 Portable Speakers review: Genius SP-i202U USB 2.0 Portable Speakers

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2 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Genius SP-i202u speakers are inexpensive and offer the flexibility of being powered either by batteries or a USB connection.

The Bad The Genius SP-i202u speakers sound thin, the kickstands beg to be broken, and volume output is relatively tame.

The Bottom Line Though the Genius SP-i202u's ability to use USB or batteries for power is unique for its price, the sound leaves much to be desired.

4.7 Overall
  • Design 5.0
  • Features 6.0
  • Performance 3.0

Genius SP-i202u

The concept behind the Genius SP-i202u is noteworthy. Admittedly, it is hard to find inexpensive portable speakers that offer a choice between being powered by USB or batteries. The Genius SP-i202u speakers deliver this feature, but the sound quality is too poor to make them worthy of recommendation. While not prone to distortion like some budget speakers, the inability of these speakers to reproduce lower frequencies makes them not much better than the built-in speakers found in most notebook and desktop computers.

To their credit, when connected over USB, the SP-i202u speakers were quickly recognized as an audio device under Windows XP, allowing the computer's audio to be played on the speakers with a simple USB connection. No software driver installations were necessary, which is good because no drivers are included. When connected over USB, the Genius SP-i202u speakers will only deliver two watts of power, 30 percent of the six watts of power it is technically capable of producing when powered by batteries. Mac support is also available, but I see no reason why any Mac user would prefer these speakers over the built-in audio available on nearly all Apple laptop and desktop models.

When powered using four AAA batteries, the Genius SP-i202u speakers can be used independently of a computer to play back any audio source that can be routed into its 1/8-inch stereo minijack. The LED light indicator on the front of the right speaker indicates when you'll need to replace the batteries. A black, zipped, clamshell-style carrying case--with extra room to store your cables and your MP3 player--is also included.

Despite a solid concept, a low price, and reasonably good looks, the Genius SP-i202u speakers deliver thin, uninspiring sound.

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