No picnic, barbecue, or other group activity is complete until you introduce music, but the problem with portable speakers is that you either have to find an outlet for power or the speakers themselves are so poor that all you can hear is a garbled mess. The JBL On Tour XTB system makes a convenient accessory for summer activities; sound quality is top notch even at loud volumes and it can connect wirelessly through Bluetooth, but its slightly overpriced at $200. We stand behind the On Tour XTB if you can afford it, but if you're just looking for a basic, portable speaker, you and your wallet will get more satisfaction out of the $100 Philips SBD7500.
At first glance, you might mistake the On Tour XTB for a smaller version of the popular Roomba vacuum cleaner, but the four speakers mounted on top of the unit give it away. We like the size of the XTB; at 6 inches wide, 6 inches tall, and 2.5 inches thick, the speaker won't become an obstruction in your travel bag. The exterior is covered in a glossy black finish and each of the four drivers is wrapped in a shiny chrome border for extra style points.
One of the speakers on top of the device features two volume buttons on either side and a small button on top that answers your phone if you have it connected via Bluetooth. There's no mic built into the speaker, but you can use it as a speakerphone along with your handset.
JBL puts all the other buttons including power, audio-in, and DC power ports on the opposite edge of the On Tour XTB, and Appleheads will certainly appreciate the extra USB port thrown in for charging your iPods and iPhones on the run.