The House of Marley Bag of Rhythm review: The House of Marley Bag of Rhythm

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The unit can be carried on your shoulder or like a briefcase. Sarah Tew/CNET

For better or worse, you don't get anything in the way of extra features. This is strictly an iPhone/iPod stereo docking system with no wireless capabilities. You do get an auxiliary input for connecting other MP3 players or smartphones, or any device that has an audio output.

Alas, the Bag of Rhythm doesn't include a rechargeable battery for mobile use. For those times when you can't plug it into a wall outlet (at the beach, for instance), you need to use six D batteries. Ideally, an eco-friendly stereo like this would have a rechargeable battery, and the company says it has one in the works, though I couldn't get a release date or a price (I will update the review once I get that information). In the meantime, of course, you could invest in a set of third-party rechargeables instead.

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The dock accepts iPods and iPhones and acts as a charger. Sarah Tew/CNET

Our take
The House of Marley Bag Of Rhythm is fairly pricey at $349 list (you can get it for $299 online), but it is one of the best-sounding portable speakers we've heard in this price range. While it doesn't have the deep bass of the Monster Beats by Dr. Dre Beatbox, it has a more balanced sound. I liked the styling of the Beatbox as well, but this certainly makes a different kind of statement, and it does have the whole carrying-bag element to it (the Beatbox is designed to sit in a corner of a room to achieve maximum bass output).

The best deal in this category is still the Altec Lansing Mix BoomBox iMT810, another portable unit that delivers very good sound for around $200 (list price is $300). What you're paying for here is the Bag of Rhythm's unique design and strong performance. It's not going to wow anybody with its feature set, but this is overall a quality portable boom box that throws out a lot of sound for its size. I wish it had distinguished itself with a rechargeable battery option, but then it would have cost over $400, and I'd probably have complained more about it being overpriced.

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