We think portable speakers for your cell phone are a great idea. When you have a decent music phone you should be allowed to share your tunes with others. Recently, we've reviewed a few of Sony Ericsson's products; the MPS-70 speakers were particularly nice, but LG is a player in the space as well. And that's particularly fitting since LG is no slouch when it come to respectable music handsets. The LG MSP-200 portable speakers feature the same folding design as the company's MSP-100 speakers, but they add a handy, and much-needed, volume control. And at about $50 they're also a good buy.
In their closed position, the MSP-200 speakers could almost be mistaken for a basic cell phone; that is, a cell phone with no external display or manufacturer logo. Yet at 3.67 by 1.94 by 0.91 inches and 3.25 ounces, it has the same dimensions as your average handset. Also, it has a basic black color scheme and its folding design is taken straight from a flip phone. But if you look a little closer, you'll see some elements that are unusual. Four rubber pads enable the speakers to stand on their sides (when was the last time you saw that on a cell phone?), and the volume control is a wheel instead of a rocker switch. On the whole, we'd say the design is certainly functional, but it's not very inspiring.
To reveal the speakers, just open the MSP-200 just like you would a standard flip phone. The large hinge has a sturdy construction, and the open mechanism is neither too loose nor too stiff. As previously mentioned, the MSP-200 speakers have a volume control wheel, which is a nice bonus over the previous MSP-100 speakers. Sure, you can always adjust the audio level on the phone you're using, but the second volume control gave us even more freedom.
Next to the volume control are a power switch and two tiny lights. One shines green when the speakers are powered on, while the other glows red if they are charging. Of course the presence of the latter indicator means that the speakers do have a separate battery and won't run off your phone's power like Sony Ericsson's MPS-70 speakers. We're somewhat divided on the consequences of this arrangement. While we like that the speakers won't suck life from our phone, we don't like having to power another device. Remembering to carry another charger is also inconvenient, but the MSP-200 speakers should accommodate chargers from a variety of LG phones. The battery has a rated music playback time of 7 hours and a promised standby time of 3.3 days.
Connecting the speakers to your phone is very simple. You need only to stretch the included cable between the two devices and plug it into the jack located near the speakers' hinge. The jack uses a 2.5mm connection, so you won't have to go fishing around for a proprietary plug if you lose the cable. The 2.5mm plug on the other end should fit a variety of devices from LG phones to MP3 players and PVPs. And if needed, you're also given a second cable with a 3.5mm plug on the other end for fitting even more gadgets--nice. Both cables are 3 feet in length; long enough to give you some room, but short enough to avoid tangling.
We tested the MPS-200 speakers with the LG X8350. Sound quality was quite nice for the most part. The sound could be a little tinny and it warbled at the higher levels, but that's to be expected for speakers that are only 1.25 inch in diameter. Also, because the speakers are only about 3.5 inches apart, you don't get a very rich stereo sound. But on the upside, the volume level was more than respectable. When compared with Sony Ericsson's product, we'd have to go with the MPS-70 speakers for the best overall audio quality, but the LG MSP-200 speakers are still a good product in their own right.