Mini speakers are a dime a dozen these days, so we rarely give them any Crave loving. But we're quite taken with a couple of offerings today, one of which looks exactly like a Tunnock's Tea Cake. They're made by a company called Xm-i and are lovingly known as the X-mini speakers. Actually, there are two versions: the X-mini, a pair of stereo speakers that conjoin via the medium of magnetism, and the X-mini Max, a monaural version that happens to bear a remarkable resemblance to a delicious marshmallow snack.
Now, the problem with small speakers is they often sound like a male preying mantis screaming as its mate decapitates it during copulation. And that's putting it politely. But it's a simple fact that the smaller a speaker is, the poorer the sound tends to be.
Xm-i has tackled this problem by allowing the speakers to expand in a twist-and-pull fashion, revealing an inch-long compartment similar to the expanding part of an accordion. This gives the single speaker driver more room to move air, thus producing bonus bass.
But does it work? Sort of. The sound is still very bright -- very high on treble -- but there's certainly an extra helping of kick, and that's no bad thing. The big bonus here, of course, is that these are truly tiny, for all your portability needs, and they plug into any 3.5mm headphone socket.
The only real issue is that they charge over USB to an internal, non-replaceable battery, meaning no computer, no charge. After your 10 hours of playtime are over, you'll have to steal someone else's speakers at the Glastonbury festival to continue listening to your favourite Jay-T songs, or to hear Radio 1 play Duffy all the livelong day.
But we do quite like these little things. You can buy a set from AdvancedMP3Players in the next month, for £20 for the X-mini Max and £30 for the stereo X-mini. -Nate Lanxon