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X-mini II Capsule Speakers review: X-mini II Capsule Speakers

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They're not actually "unbelievably loud", but the X-mini speakers do pack some audio punch in a tiny frame.

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7.8

X-mini II Capsule Speakers

The Good

Decent sound quality Solidly built Supports daisy chaining multiple units.

The Bad

Fixed audio cable Not quite as loud as the packaging might have you believe.

The Bottom Line

They're not actually "unbelievably loud", but the X-mini speakers do pack some audio punch in a tiny frame.

Design

The exterior packaging for the X-mini II Capsule Speakers warns that they're "unbelievably loud", which gave us some pause for thought. We've got a pretty wide and often interesting imagination, and this made us worried. Would we be looking at burst eardrums, curious red liquids pouring forth from ears or even the infamous Scanners-style exploding head any time soon while testing them?

Exterior packaging aside (we'll get to the audio issues shortly), the X-mini is a small round speaker that's somewhat reminiscent of the original "hockey puck" iMac mouse — or if you're even more old-school, the round mice that DEC used to ship with its Alpha lines. At 60x60x44mm and 83g, it's a lightweight and eminently portable unit that hides a tiny fixed 3.5mm audio plug on the base and power, volume and mini-USB ports around the sides. Our one criticism here is something that's true of all units with fixed cables, namely that if the cable or plug develops problems, the entire unit becomes not much more than a paperweight. The X-Mini tries to sidestep this problem with a combination USB/Audio cable in the box, but as that's also a proprietary cable, if that's lost you're still stuck. A standard 3.5mm socket on the device and cable would negate this problem entirely.

The hockey puck look is only half the X-mini's story, however. With a quick twist, the unit opens up to reveal a small resonating chamber. It also makes it look somewhat like the world's tiniest accordion, although that's only a visual observation. Fans of impromptu polkas will still have to look elsewhere.

The X-mini Capsule Speaker also features a port labelled as "audio", but this doesn't double as a separate input, but instead as a supplementary output socket. The idea is that you can daisy chain multiple X-mini units together for even more sound, or plug in headphones if that takes your fancy.

Features

The speaker within the X-mini Capsule Speaker system has a 40mm driver capable of 2.5W output with a claimed playback time of up to 11 hours when fully charged via the micro-USB port.

Performance

Having checked the specifications, we were pretty sure that 2.5W output fell well below what we could realistically class as "unbelievably loud". That kind of hype doesn't really help a product, but we were mostly pleased with the general clarity of the X-mini II's audio output. Even if there isn't space to twist the unit fully open the general audio output for a single listener is fine at most sensible volumes. When we cranked up the output from a connected iPhone 3GS on a bass-heavy track we did hit some distortion. You also won't be filling a party room with the output from a single X-mini II.

We only had the one X-mini to test with, so we can't speak to how well the daisy chaining actually works. As for headphones, we can confirm that the X-mini II outputs to headphones, but we're not quite sure why this would be useful, given you've got a speaker right next to you. If you needed just headphones, you could plug them directly into your audio source.

Conclusion

The X-mini IIs don't live up to the "unbelievably loud" hype, but beyond that they're fairly priced for portable speakers, somewhat unique looking and offer up decent but not spectacular audio quality.