Capsule speakers remain a niche product, but they offer some appeal to laptop users who want better sound but don't want to lug around a set of more standard-size computer speakers. The only drawback to going small is that even if the speakers sound better than most internal laptop speakers, they usually still sound pretty mediocre. What's slightly different about the iHM79s, then, is that iHome has made these mini speakers a tad larger than its early capsule models, and the result is that they sound better but take up a little more room in your computer bag.
The speakers weigh just less than half a pound (combined) and come in four colors, black, silver, white, and red. They have circular bases with a diameter of 2.5 inches, and are designed to expand accordion-style when in use to a full height of 2.75 inches. When traveling, you collapse each speaker--chopping half an inch off the height--then attach the bases together to form a sort of football-shape unit that fits in an included cloth pouch. The speakers link together via magnetic bases, and the manual does warn you to keep the magnets clear of computers and monitors (though we didn't experience any problems).
Each speaker is powered by a rechargeable battery. To charge the batteries, iHome provides a special split USB cable that also has an integrated 3.5mm minijack cable to plug into the audio input on your computer or an audio device such as an iPhone or an MP3 player. You can charge via your PC's USB port, or invest in a USB wall charger. (Travel with a multiport USB charger, for instance, and you'll be able to juice up the speakers and your iPod or music phone with a single wall wart; the Lenmar ACUSB4 ably powered both the iHome speakers and our iPod Touch.)