Livespeakr portable speakers are compact, powerful

The scoop: Livespeakr portable speaker system, by Digital Group Audio, about $100.

What it is: Like last week's i2i folding portable speakers, the Livespeakr system is a small and compact speaker system that can be transformed into different positions for iPod and iPhone users. The system is designed for all generations of the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPod Classic models, as the connection is through the headphone audio jack (unlike larger iPod speakers that use the universal dock connector to also recharge the iPod's batteries). The speakers are powered by a battery that is recharged through an included power adapter.

Why it's cool: The expandable speakers can contract and rotate to let users view their iPod or iPhone in portrait (vertical) or landscape (horizontal mode). This is a huge benefit for users who want to watch videos – other speaker systems don't allow for this landscape-viewing mode. The Livespeakr system also is shielded against radio frequency interference, a plus for iPhone users. This lets you use the speakers as a speakerphone, something other portable systems don't seem to allow (the RF interference gets in the way).

The sound quality from the speakers was excellent – in my tests, I had to always keep the volume about 75% when listening with the speakers – if I went louder, I would get some audio crackling. The system would be perfect for individual use in an office, or mobile travelers who want to use this in a hotel room, for example.

The system's "Super Cradle" is designed to work with larger iPod and iPhone models. A kickstand on the back of the device gives you a little stand to set up the speakers vertically. Very nice.

Some caveats: You could use this system with smaller models like the Nano and/or Shuffle, but you wouldn't be able to use the cradle (your device would just be separate from the LiveSpeakr). Speaking of the cradle, on occasion the plastic part would disconnect from the speakers when rotating it or detaching my iPhone from it.

In addition, on my heavier iPhone 3G, the device became top-heavy with the kickstand enabled. At $100, it's a little pricey, compared with some portable $40 models (the i2i and Altec Lansing's Orbit MP3 speakers), but then again, those models don't have the rechargeable battery or the included power adapter. Those features, plus the RF shielding, may be worth the extra bucks to you.

Grade: 4 stars (out of five).

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