There are two big truths that need to be stated right at the start of this review so we all know where we stand:
Truth 1. Listening to music through the speakers built in to your laptop is only slightly preferable to massaging your ears with a cheese grater.
Truth 2. Speakers that cost £15 are not going to perform just like the £250 set attached to the sound system in your lounge.
Great, that’s that out of the way and now we can get on with the review without having to make silly assumptions about what to expect for your money.
Actually, this speaker isn’t half bad at all, well, as long as you don’t ramp the volume up too far, and don’t want to locate it further than the measly 35cm USB cable allows.
You can’t exactly stick it in your pocket without getting admiring glances of the "are you pleased to see me or is that a Genius USB speaker in your pocket" variety either.
At 210 x 45 x 30mm it kind of falls into the bit too big but not really big enough category.
Let’s face it, if you can’t easily stick it in your pocket then you might as well make up for it by having slightly bigger speaker enclosures for better sound.
On the positive side it is light, weighing in at just 150g, thanks to the lack of any battery requirement. Why? Well because the SP-i200U takes its power from the USB port which is both good and bad.
Good because of the no need for batteries thing, bad for the same reason as it means your laptop battery will be taking the hit and only you can decide if a bit better sound is worth less uptime.
For most people we suspect the answer will be no, if you want mobile sound then listen to your MP3 player as the sound will be a lot better. On the other hand, if you are of the business-suit variety and give those presentation things at customer sites, then you will have access to a power point (no pun intended) and the extra oomph of the speaker could come in rather handy.
You can probably tell that we are very much in the push-me-pull-you mode for this review can't you.
We love the little design touches like the way the USB cable folds away neatly underneath and the flap to the cable compartment folds out and acts as a stand.
We like the plug and play nature of the beast, Windows simply recognises it for what it is and audio streams forth within a few seconds of inserting the USB cable.
We are even quite taken by the range of the specially designed 28mm neodymium micro drivers inside the tiny aluminium cones, which do most movies justice, as far as the word applies to watching Hannibal on your lappy that is. And there is certainly no arguing about the price.
At the end of the day all you get is 2 watts of output with a digital amplifier that enhances the bass, but not in a bombastic sort of a way. If it is grunt you are after look elsewhere, preferably not on a laptop you muppet!
If you really, definitely, must listen to audio in earnest on your laptop then you wont get better sound at any where near this money.