Editors' Note: The rating on this review has been lowered from 7.7 to 7.3 due to changes in the competitive marketplace.
For a speaker set that's about the size of a cell phone, the LG Portable Stereo Speakers MSP-100 ($59.99) sounds about as good as can be expected. Flip this ultraportable speaker system open, and you won't find a screen and a keypad, although that's what you might expect from its clamshell, cell phone-like design. Instead, there are two speakers that run from an internal rechargeable battery; a power button; and little else. Sound quality is somewhat constrained by the ultracompact design, but the MSP-100 is a solid on-the-go solution for amplifying sound from cell phones and portable media players.
The light, 2.7-ounce LG MSP-100 is about as small as a speaker system could be, while still sounding remotely decent. It measures only 3.5 by 1.7 by 0.8 inches when folded, with a length of 6.4 inches when flipped open, and it stows about as easily as a clamshell-style cell phone when folded up. The speakers' metallic chassis, which comes in black and silver, feels resilient and substantial. Both models have a reflective surface on their backs that could be used as a compact mirror in a pinch.
Along the spine of the LG MSP-100 are inputs for the audio cables and the power adapter, which can power the device or charge the internal lithium-ion battery in less than 90 minutes. Both ports have rubber stoppers attached to keep out debris. Another rubber stopper embedded on the bottom stops the unit from skidding off a table if you jostle the cord. LG includes two audio cables in the package: one for connecting to MP3 players or anything else with a normal 3.5mm minijack audio output and another for connecting to cell phones, which have a skinnier 2.5mm audio output. Both cords are relatively short (a little more than 2.5 feet), which helps avoid tangles when the speakers are stowed.
The single control on the device--an on/off slider switch--is located on the side of the LG MSP-100. Two LED lights on the outer surface tell you when the unit is on, as well as when it's charging or done charging. The lack of a volume control isn't too big a deal, because whatever you're using it with will have one of its own. But if your MP3 player or cell phone doesn't put out a lot of power (look for at least 15mW per channel), the speakers won't be able to reach the upper volume range. It played plenty loud with a 5G iPod, a Creative Zen Vision:M, and our PC's output.In testing, the LG MSP-100's sound was clean, if a bit tinny due to the small size of its speakers (35mm in diameter). When unfolded, these speakers are only about 4.5 inches apart, so you can pick up a bit of stereo separation if you're within 3 feet, but not much. Given the unit's small size, it sounds about as decent as can be reasonably expected. Along with letting you listen to your MP3 player wherever you happen to be, the MSP-100 is a good option for enhancing the audio experience when you share portable video on a cell phone or a PVP.