Portable speakers are the hot ticket for travelers, students, office workers, and anyone who wants to enjoy music but doesn't have room for regular speakers. With its stereo speakers folded in, Sony's gunmetal-gray SRS-T77 is about the size of a two-disc CD jewel case. The little system weighs 12 ounces when loaded with four AA batteries; it's a few ounces lighter when you use the optional AC power pack. The Sony SRS-T77 retails for $89 but typically sells for less than $60 online.
To play the T77, you must first unfold the speakers and swivel a steadying foot out from the bottom of the slender unit. The T77 then cants back a few degrees to direct the sound up toward your ears and away from the horizontal surface it rests on. No one will claim that the T77 has a high-end design, but its build quality is fairly impressive. Since the speakers don't have a volume button, you must use your player's control.
We found the Sony SRS-T77's sound pleasantly immediate and detailed. Aerosmith's extraraunchy Honkin' with Bobo CD rocked with gusto, and less aggressive melodic pop music from singer/songwriter Ron Sexsmith sounded present. Sony claims the T77's Dynamic Sound Ducts enhance bass reproduction. But don't get your hopes up; no matter what sort of ducts they feed into, a pair of 1.5-inch woofers won't rattle your cage. In a quiet room, when you're not playing music, you'll hear some hiss from the speakers, but that's hardly a deal breaker. We used our Apple iPod and our with equal success.
Creative's nifty little speakers edged out the T77 in a brief shoot-out; the TravelSound kit had a bit more bass and sounded a little cleaner than the T77. Still, though the Sony sounds best at low to moderate levels, we like that it can get really loud before distorting.