It has reached the point where your smartphone or tablet can be your stereo. Whether you subscribe to a free streaming music services or just have your phone loaded up with thousands of songs, there's little need for a bulky music player that sits on a shelf all the time.
But phones and other such mobile devices have a weakness -- their built-in speakers are universally bad, with little or no bass and muffled sound. For the most part, I don't listen to music through these, and even podcasts sound bad.
That's why you should consider investing in an external speaker for your smartphone or tablet. I've been testing out one of these -- the Aluratek Bump (APS01F) -- and I've found a lot to like.
BUILD & DESIGN
The Bump looks a bit like a mushroom. The speaker takes up the whole top, while on the bottom is the status light, mini-USB charging port, and the audio cable in its recessed holding slot.
My only complaint about the design is the short audio cable. It's just under 4-inches long, which means that the speaker has to be right next to your phone, iPod, etc. It's nice that the cable can be stored in its little recessed slot, but it doesn't stay in there very well. I have to put tape over it when I'm traveling to keep it from flopping out. These are just a minor irritations, though.
When you first look at the Bump you don't see the power button because it's on a section that retracts inside this accessory. This movable section, called the extension base, stays out of the way when you're carrying the Bump around, but can be popped out to create an internal bass chamber.
Setting up the Bump is simple: pop out the extension base, pull out the audio cable and plug it into your device of choice, then turn on the power switch. Whatever is playing on your phone, tablet, MP3 player will immediately start coming out of this accessory... and it will sound much, much better.
Audio quality when compared with the built-in speakers of any of my phones or tablets is night-and-day -- there's actually some bass, a thing few phones can provide. It's not going to rival the audio quality of a set of Bose speakers, but it's considerably more portable and affordable.
The volume you'll get from this accessory is also much better than any mobile gadget's internal speaker that I know of. It's loud enough that my wife and I can watch movies together on an iPad without straining to hear, which isn't possible with that tablet's built-in speaker. But if you really intend to crank up the decibels, you're going to need a full system with an amp and some serious speakers. No one is going to pound on your wall and tell you to turn the Bump down.
There are actually two volume settings, but this is pointless. I call these settings "a little too quiet" and "just right". I always put it on the second setting and, in the rare occasions that's too loud, adjust the volume on the device that's providing the music.
It's a little known fact that speakers require power. More than a keyboard does, even. The Bump has its own li-ion battery, and Aluratek says this is good for 4 hours of use. To me, that seems a bit low. With irregular use, it's lasted me up to two weeks on a single charge, and it seems I've used it for longer than 4 hours over that time.
When the battery charge is up, you need to plug this accessory into a PC's USB port using the the included cable. A little red LED will come on to tell you its charging.
If you want to listen to music from morning to night, you're going to need to plug in the Bump while you're using it. That's not much of a hassle, but it's something audiophiles should be aware of.
I travel a lot, and I often find myself listening to the music and podcasts in hotel rooms. The Aluratek Bump (APS01F) is perfect for this job. It's easily portable but provides the volume and audio quality I need. And at just $20, it's a good deal, too.
If you're tired of the lousy quality of the speakers in your smartphone or tablet, and want something better, I recommend the Bump. It's the best portable speaker I've run across so far.
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