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MP3 Players

Hands-on with the Creative TravelSound i50

We've been playing with a new set of portable speakers for the iPod shuffle. Creative's TravelSound i50 may be a little pricey at £39 but it integrates beautifully with the dinky MP3 player

With Christmas just around the corner, it's time to poke into this year's stocking filler selections, and where better to start than with iPod accessories? We've got Creative's new TravelSound i50 in the house -- it's a little speaker system for the iPod shuffle. At £39 it's not the cheapest offering we've seen this year. So what does the i50 offer that we've not seen before?

Well, not lots, but enough to be notable. Firstly, this is a dedicated shuffle system and the dinky little player sits almost seamlessly in the pseudo-docking station at the top of the device. A small transparent plastic cover keeps the shuffle safe and securely fixed to the speaker, but the lack of a cut-out prevents Mr Finger from poking around Mrs iPod's buttons unless the cover is removed. The system on the whole has a nice meaty build quality as a result of a solid plastic chassis complete with a chunky aluminium front plate.

Performance is pretty much what you'd expect: a sound that's fairly loud but heavy on the high end. You might consider calling it a 'tinny' sound, as there's a distinct lack of bass, but it's generally clean overall. At the end of the day, £40 will only get you so much. We noted only mild distortion when volume was cranked up to the max. An internal lithium-ion battery is charged over USB and aims to last for about 15 hours of play time from a full charge.

When compared to Logic3's i-Station Traveller -- a little system that works with any MP3 player -- £39 sounds a little expensive, especially considering the USB socket is only for charging purposes (the i50 won't act as an iPod dock when connected to a PC). But if you're looking for the perfect partner for the iPod shuffle, it's a small premium to pay for something that so neatly integrates both the player and a set of pocketable speakers. -Nate Lanxon