When most people are shopping for portable speakers for iPhones, iPads, and laptops, they usually settle on one of four options: Altec Lansing, X-Mini II, iHome Mini, and the Mini USB from the Sharper Image. But which is the best?
It's a trick question. Despite all the comparisons you can read online, the iHome Minis are rebranded and modified X-Mini II capsules. And, most people suspect the same is true of the Sharper Image Mini USB.
There are some subtle differences between the original and the rebrands, but the innovation still belongs to the X-Mini. The entire expandable woofer concept was created by a little company in Singapore that had a few thousand dollars and one singular mission. Xmi Pte Ltd. wanted to create the smallest pocket-sized speaker with the richest sound possible.
What's new with the X-Mini II is that now it comes with a new, larger 40mm driver that delivers more clarity and the expanded BXS bass for a better low-end response. They sound better than the originals developed four years ago. They also loop together if you want even more sound.
The X-Mini II capsule speakers are still the best for the boom.
When it comes to design, size, and portability, the original stands solid. And, of course, if you are looking for a little less portability and stereo sound, then they make the X-Mini Max II. They fit together like an egg, but portability leaves the room.
Understanding all this might make it easier to make a decision that really comes down to the X-Mini II and Altec Lansing. Altec Lansing makes fine speakers, even if the sound leans toward more tin in the treble and less bass. The original is self-powered with AAA batteries. There are pros and cons.
You don't have to worry about charging after 12 hours of playtime. And, lithium battery-powered portables eventually cannot be charged ($20 makes replacing them easy enough). With the exception of camping, 10-12 hours of play is usually enough to share a few songs with friends anywhere.
Altec Lansing also developed the Orbit USB speakers, which are USB chargeable. Unfortunately, they've only developed it for the laptop. And like the original design (and most rebrands), there is no volume control. The ability to control the volume off the speaker allows you to control the volume while still adjusting the device for an optimal output level.
The X-Mini II By Xmi Pte Ltd. Booms To A 6.8 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.
The X-Mini II came to mind with the holidays. They make great reasonably priced gifts, especially since most mini speakers cost about half of what they used to. It could be a nice surprise for smartphone and iPad owners who seem to have everything else.
You can find the X-Mini II Capsule Speaker on Amazon for about $20. The X-Mini MAX II Capsule Speakers (Stereo) are about $35.
The Altec Lansing Ultraportable Speaker is also on Amazon for about $20. The Mini USB Computer Speakers at the Sharper Image are about $30.