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Review Trekstor Portable Soundbox black

Tobias Winkler (translated by Daniel Rechitsky), 03/01/2011

Bringin' the Noise. Netbooks, subnotebooks and even full-sized starter notebooks often disappoint when it comes to playing music or producing the audio in films the way it was meant to be heard. TrekStor's mobile solution should lend a hand to bringing the noise, not just in terms of volume, but balanced sound quality as well. Find out whether it goes the whole nine yards or stops short somewhere along the line...

Available in 5 Colors
Available in 5 Colors
The Portable SoundBox in platic packaging with artsy design
The Portable SoundBox in platic packaging with artsy design

The small, easy-to-handle "box" weighs a mere 100g, measures 70x 70x 48 mm and fits into just about any notebook carrying bag.  The case consists of plastic, is available in one of five colors and will run you about 20 Euro.  The case exhibits a sturdy build that's very resistant to pressure and the black version that we reviewed proved itself quite easy to clean.  According to TrekStor, it consumes 1 watt of power.

Taking a look around the case, we spot a mini USB port for charging the battery and a volume slider.  This slider only has three positions: Off, Low and High.  Adjusting the volume to a finer degree can be done via the notebook's volume control.  Built into the case we find a lithium-ion battery, supposedly good for a battery life of 35 hours.  We, however, did not have a chance to test this value by squeezing every last drop of energy from the battery.

Easy to take with you.
Easy to take with you.
A volume slider at the front...
A volume slider at the front...
... and a Mini USB port at the back for charing its battery.
... and a Mini USB port at the back for charing its battery.

Buried into its base you'll find the audio cable that fits into the typical 3.5-mm stereo-mini headphone jack on just about all notebooks.  MP3 players as well as many cell phones and  smartphones also have a headphone jack like this.  The short cable severely limits the placement of the speaker.  Notebooks with the headphone jack at the front or closer to the front on the left or right side really don't leave a good place for the "Box" to sit without getting in the way.  Either the speaker is placed in front of the palm rest or where an external mouse would be.

Compared to that of the HP Mini 5101, the sound quality is almost heavenly.  The speaker even represents an improvement on the sound quality of better netbooks and subnotebooks.  Especially considering the presence of mids and bass—compared with the typical highs-heavy sound of many laptops—the sound quality of the speaker is a good deal more balanced.  It has a high maximum volume at which distortion remains only slightly audible.

Taking some typical USB speakers (Trust SP-2750p) that come at a similar price as a basis of comparison, we quickly see the limitations of the Portable Soundbox.  Of course, the single speaker can't quite replicate the stereo experience, and in other respects the sound quality doesn't reach the level of the typical USB speakers either.  Due to insufficient shielding of radio interference or the lack thereof, we concluded that charging the battery causes the sound emanating from speaker to be plagued by static noise like scratching and popping.   This leaves you with the options of either charging the battery or playing something, not both.

Verdict

The TrekStor Portable Soundbox is convenient, lasts a long time and is very easy to use. Unfortunately, the short audio cable makes placement of the speaker quite inconvenient—especially plugged into notebooks with the audio jack in front or at the side close to the front.

The sound quality is better than that of many netbooks and subnotebooks but compared to similarly-priced USB speakers, the Soundbox is no match.

Those looking for a speaker to connect to an MP3 player, a cell phone or a smartphone with a 3.5 mm stereo-mini port will find this to a be convenient device at a fair price.

In Review: Trekstor Portable Soundbox
In Review: Trekstor Portable Soundbox
The USB cable is needed for charging the battery within.
The USB cable is needed for charging the battery within.
The speaker is connected via a stereo-mini cord.
The speaker is connected via a stereo-mini cord.
The red LED indicates the battery is charging.
The red LED indicates the battery is charging.
The blue one is lit when the speaker receives an audio signal and plays it.
The blue one is lit when the speaker receives an audio signal and plays it.
The short cable can indeed be easily tucked away but greatly limits placement of the speaker.
The short cable can indeed be  easily tucked away but greatly limits placement of the speaker.

Shortcut

What we like

Compact, light as well as mobile and easy-to-handle thanks to internal battery.

What we'd like to see

Most of all, a longer audio cable.

What surprises us

How easily we could improve the awful sound quality of typical subnotebook speakers.

The competition

Most notably stereo USB speakers which don't need an additional cable for a power source and usually come with a longer cable—but are less convenient to use in return.  A headset would also be an alternative for a single user.

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Author: Tobias Winkler, 2011-03- 1 (Update: 2012-05-26)