You want to take your tunes on the road, but headphones don't always cut it, and even the smallest home speakers and receivers/amplifiers aren't portable. Technology has come to the rescue with a new breed of portable speakers that sound a lot better than the tinny models you might remember from the Walkman days. These useful devices are the hot ticket for travelers, dorm rooms, the beach, or the office; they plug into iPods, MP3 players, and laptops' headphone jacks, with sound that can easily fill a small to medium-size room.
It's also true that you can get much better sound with a decent set of headphones, which are even more portable and have deeper bass, superior treble detail, and better stereo imaging. But headphones are best appreciated alone. Portable speakers are ideal for social settings where you want to share your tunes with a few others or when you're milling around your hotel room getting ready for a night out on the town. Below you'll find the Top 10 contenders that have been reviewed by CNET. Some are perfect for frequent travelers, while others are best suited for the office or trips to the beach, and all of them have the option of being powered from built-in or replaceable batteries.
- : The iM7 is a great modular and portable sound system for iPod owners.
- : Altec Lansing has been in the iPod speaker market longer than anyone, and it shows. The inclusion of a rechargeable battery and an FM radio makes the iM600 incredibly versatile.
- : If you're looking for ultracompact speakers that don't sacrifice on sound quality, LG's Portable Stereo Speakers MSP-100 fits the bill--and it won't break the bank.
- Logitech Pure-Fi Anywhere: It may not be the most compact portable speaker on the block, but the Logitech Pure-Fi Anywhere offers useful extras and great sound for an affordable price.
- Yamaha NX-A01: The Yamaha NX-A01 won us over with its minimal design and sound quality, but don't expect it to blow the roof off.
- : The Logitech PlayGear Amp is a great audio solution for users looking to get more sound out of their movies, music, and games on the PSP.
- : The Altec Lansing iM4 finally delivers the bass we've been craving in small portable speakers, and they're not iPod-centric, so you can use them with any MP3 player.
- : For frequent fliers who own Creative's Zen V MP3 player and don't want to be stuck listening to clock radios, the TravelSound Zen V is a fine choice.
- : The Bushnell TravelTunes Portable Speakers for iPod are an obvious choice for the outdoor enthusiast--or anyone who spends a lot of time in the backyard. Just keep in mind that weather protection for the iPod itself is not part of the package.
- : Frequent travelers who want to release their music from the confines of an MP3 player should seriously consider the Logitech mm32.