Although there is no shortage of portable speakers made for the iPod, the number specifically aimed toward the iPod Touch and the iPhone is significantly less. In fact, the Livespeakr Ultra-Portable Speaker is the only one we've come across that patently leaves out other iPods, with a design that caters completely to the touch-screen members of the family. This $80 unit won't blow you away with stellar sound, but the super compact and innovative design may be enough to lure you in.
While not what we would consider pocket-friendly, the Livespeakr is small enough to fit in even the most crammed or limited carry-ons. In "storage mode," the speaker measures just 6.5 inches across, 2.5 inches high, and 1.8 inches deep (with iPod/iPhone docked). In this configuration, the two 1.5-inch speaker drivers are tucked away behind the player for maximum portability. Turning the player dock 90 degrees places the setup in Portrait Mode, also known as "speaker-phone enhancement mode." This way, the iPod is in browsing configuration and the speakers are exposed. Continuing the 90-degree rotation puts the device into Landscape Mode (or "movie enjoyment mode"), with the speakers popping out from the sides and the iPod on its side for video viewing.
While using either portrait or landscape mode, you'll need to engage the kickstand on the back of the Livespeakr. The stand, which is constructed of sturdy metal, slides out to raise the speaker off the ground and offers three viewing angles. The remainder of the unit is made of plastic and does feel a bit cheap, but you do get to pick from either white or black color options. There's also an on/off switch and a Mini-USB power input jack on the top edge of the speaker. A USB wall charger is included, and there's a built-in rechargeable battery rated for up to 16 hours of playback. The package includes a soft travel pouch as well.
Given the Livespeakr's small size, we weren't too surprised by the audio quality during performance tests. It's about what you would expect from such a unit. Bass is particularly anemic, so if you require any low-end oomph, best look elsewhere. The speakers do get quite loud for the size, but there is quite a bit of distortion at high volumes. Playing music a few notches lower improves things as far as high-end clarity and midrange warmth are concerned, but neither of these things is stellar. For watching videos on the go, however, these will do the trick. And if you're just looking for a travel-friendly way to enjoy tunes, as opposed to an everyday solution, the Livespeakr is certainly suitable.