by Doc Coleman - Nifty Tech Editor on May 9, 2011 · 10 comments

in Hardware

These days we have so many digital devices that play audio it isn’t funny. Smartphones, computers, MP3 players, even handheld games. Some of these devices have built in speakers to let you play audio, but most of them just come with earbuds, if they have anything at all. For the most part, those speakers are pretty low quality, and the earbuds aren’t really comfortable enough to wear for any length of time. You can get a decent pair of headphones, but those aren’t useful if you want to share your audio with friends. What you need is a decent pair of speakers that also happens to be small and portable. Something that goes with your mobile device.

We went looking for something to fit this bill, and we found Tweakers, the small and portable speakers by Grandmax. To be perfectly honest, we also found the Chill Pill speakers by Chill Pill Audio. This is notable because as far as we can tell, these two products are exactly the same. The only difference appears to be the name. We don’t know if one product is a real product and the other a knockoff, or if they are manufactured by a third party and licenced to Grandmax and Chill Pill. Such things do happen in manufacturing. What we do know is that these little speakers do perform. They retail for about $30, but with a little careful shopping online, you can probably find one of these products for a little more than $20. We got a hold of a pair of Tweakers for this review, so that’s who we’re crediting.

What you get in the box.

If you’re going to be using Tweakers, you will need two more things to make the most of it. Although odds are you will have these things already. First, you’ll need some kind of device to supply your audio with an 1/8th inch (3.5mm) standard stereo jack. Pretty silly to buy a set of speakers if you don’t have a device to supply the sound. The other thing you’ll need is a something with a powered USB type B slot. For most folks, this will be a computer, but you can also use a power adapter for your mobile device that uses a USB port to provide power. Everything else pretty much comes with the speakers, including a small drawstring bag to carry it all in.

The speakers separated

The one accessory that comes in the bag is the recharging cable for your Tweakers. These speakers have a built in rechargeable battery in the left speaker. To recharge the battery, or to charge it initially, plug the retractable condensed USB plug in the left speaker into the charging cable, and then plug that into your computer. If you want to use the speakers while they are charging, the charging cable will also allow you to plug in the right speaker.

Charging cable connected to both speakers
The right speaker also has a retractable cable in its base. This is the Line in cable that plugs into your mobile device. Together, these cables allow you to set up your speakers about 14 inches apart and place your device up to 16 inches away from the right speaker. Controls are simple. The left side has a power switch, and the right side has a volume dial. Pretty much plug and play.

Retractable cables

One thing that sets these speakers apart is that each speaker has a pop-up acoustic chamber that deepens the sound and bass response when deployed. Just give the top a small twist and the top pops up. While some audiophiles will never be satisfied with any kind of small speaker, the Tweakers give their best sound with the acoustic chamber extended, although they sound pretty good even in the compact storage mode.

Ready to play

To store the Tweakers, Just press down on the top and twist the other direction to lock the top, unplug and retract the cables, and press the bases together. Magnets in each base will hold the speakers together, or will allow you to fix the speakers onto any ferrous surface. The whole package is only about four inches long and slips easily into the bag.

Speakers on the fridge!

The design is delightfully innovative and compact, but not without a few drawbacks. The Lithium Ion battery will eventually wear out and isn’t replaceable, so the lifespan of the speakers is pretty much limited to the rechargeable life of the battery. The good news is that they are inexpensive enough that you’ll have plenty of time to get your money’s worth of use from them. And with just about all audio products, if you’re very picky about your sound, make sure you get a chance to listen before you buy. No portable speaker will be able to give the same rich sound that a premium set of speakers can, but these do  a very decent job at trying.

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