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Eco-amp (O.G. 2.0) review:

The fun but flimsy phonograph for your iPhone

You essentially have to fold in the segmented triangles into one another to form the cone. Then you fold the rectangular bottom half that's used to later insert your handset. No adhesive or glues are used, just a lot of folding and threading tabs through slits. For those using iPhone cases, don't worry. The width of the Eco-amp is adjustable and should accommodate most cases.

I can't tell you how many times my friends and I have found ourselves trying to build a makeshift speaker for our phones. From rolled-up newspapers to empty shoe boxes (we saw the trick once in physics class with a tuning fork, but have yet to duplicate results) -- you name it, we've tried it. I'm happy to say that the Eco-amp works (and looks) better than these home remedies.

eco-amp iPhone speaker amplifier
Though an increase in volume was noticeable, don't hold your breath for an engrossing audio experience. James Martin/CNET

However, it's not by much. While audio from music, moves, and calls indeed sound louder, the difference was very slight. And for some songs, particularly ones that had a lot of high hats and cymbals, audio sounded even flatter or tinnier.

The Eco-amp did help out with the audio radius of the speaker, however; audio was carried in a wider span around the iPhone, though not necessarily farther or deeper.

Another concern I had was how flimsy the Eco-amp was. Of course, from something made out of paper I shouldn't expect much, but due to its cone shape, one literal misstep or accidental sit-down would basically render it useless. When I used it outdoors and took the iPhone out for a minute, the Eco-amp flew away almost immediately. And worse, when I dissembled the amplifier and reassembled it, the tabs and creases didn't fit as snugly as it did when I initially put it together.

I understand that I shouldn't criticize paper products like this too harshly for lack of endurance. And to the amp's credit, its pleasing aesthetic depends on this unconventional cardboard build. But given how much you tote around your phone everywhere, it's not too much to expect that your mobile accessories should hold their own.

The Eco-amp is definitely a nifty and quick item to have around when you find yourself wanting to turn up your handset's volume slightly. But despite the novel design, I can't overlook its disappointing performance coupled with its fragile build. I get that the Eco-amp wasn't designed to be a replacement for a speaker dock by any means. For one thing it's wireless, and made out of paper, and can be demolished by a leaf blower. But at $5 a pop, it's best to save the money and tell your friends to just scoot in closer to your iPhone.

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