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iCreation SpeeCup review: Unwieldy speaker streams music, calls

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MSRP: $129.95

The Good The iCreation SpeeCup offers a unique gesture control, letting you answer calls or skip tracks without touching the device, and gives access to Siri and S voice commands on paired phones. Sound quality is good for a single speaker.

The Bad The SpeeCup's height makes it a little unwieldy, limiting portability, and it is pricey for a Bluetooth speaker.

The Bottom Line As a general Bluetooth speaker system for music streaming and hands-free calls, the SpeeCup works well and offers some unique controls, but it suffers from limited portability and a high price.

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6.7 Overall
  • Design 5
  • Features 8
  • Performance 7

Review Sections

When it comes to speaker design, the world of hi-fi audio can get pretty outlandish. Beyond the basic rectangle, you have speakers that look like pyramids, spheres, wavy towers, and flat planes.

But until now, there hasn't been one that looks like a traveler's coffee mug.

iCreation's SpeeCup is more than just a speaker. The 8.5-inch-tall casing also contains Bluetooth hardware, integrated play controls, and a battery with 20 hours of charge. The battery helps the SpeeCup's portability: I could use it in my car, then take it into a hotel or use it in my home.

When paired with a phone, the SpeeCup not only can play music, but also works as a hands-free phone system.

This included 12-volt powerpoint adapter has two USB ports, useful for charging the SpeeCup and a phone. Josh Miller/CNET

The curious design of the SpeeCup let it fit easily into my car's cupholder. Also of use in the car is the device's 1/8th-inch auxiliary output port. With an adapter cable, I could plug it into the auxiliary input port and have the SpeeCup's audio play over the car's speakers. However, in some cars the SpeeCup will prove too tall, getting in the way of the shifter and parking brake.

Set into the SpeeCup's side next to the audio output is a Micro-USB jack, which works as its charging port. iCreation includes a 12-volt power adapter with two USB ports in the end, so I could keep the SpeeCup and my phone charging at the same time.

Somewhat inconveniently, the power switch is inset in the base of the thing. When I wanted to power it down to save the battery charge, I had to pick it up and fumble for the switch, not something I would want to do every time I got in or out of the car. A button or switch on top would be more convenient.

Not that the top isn't already crowded with controls. A black plastic ring, which iCreation calls the SmartControl, includes buttons for pausing and playing music, and answering a phone call. The whole ring rotates slightly right or left to change the volume.

Inside the ring sit buttons for skipping music tracks and activating voice command. For the SpeeCup's neatest trick, it includes sensors for gesture control.

The SpeeCup's top holds most of its buttons, along with sensors for gesture control. Josh Miller/CNET

Gesture control is off by default on the SpeeCup, which led to many instances of me waving my hand back and forth over it, expecting something to happen like some failed magician. I merely had to hold down the back skip button to turn on gesture control, but this feature deactivated every time I switched the device off and on.

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