A powerful, functional portable speaker for notebooks, iPods and other MP3 players.
- Slim design, easily transported, SDHC slot, good battery life
- No control screen, heavy weight, distortion present at higher volumes
If you are looking for a volume boost over your iPod or laptop's integrated speakers, the Fiio S3 is very capable portable speaker. It will output acceptable quality sound except at high volumes.
Price$ 59.90 (AUD)
The Fiio S3 is a portable speaker that is easy to transport and it provides a welcome volume boost to the internal speakers of laptops, iPods and other MP3 players.
This portable speaker is only available in a scratch-resistant matte white finish, the Fiio S3 is nothing special to look at. The utilitarian theme continues with the top-mounted buttons which are simply labelled with the appropriate symbols. In addition there is an SD/MMC slot, which allows playback of WMA and MP3 files natively and supports a card size of up to 16GB.
Despite its boring looks the speaker is quite capable — if nothing special. Two 40mm 1.2 Watt drivers pump out well-rounded sound and are able to reach reasonable volumes before distorting. The sound created has strong treble and acceptable levels of mid-range, but no bass to speak of. We preferred it over the integrated speakers of our Dell Inspiron Mini 9, while the volume advantage over an Apple iPod touch (2nd Generation) is noticeable.
The MP3 playback feature is well-implemented. Its simplicity will either impress or frustrate, though; apart from the play/pause button, only forward and reverse track skipping buttons are available. MP3s of all bit-rates are playable, though higher bit-rates will be wasted on the mediocre speakers. However, a headphone output means these can be listened to on headphones.
The S3 lasted just over eight hours playing music at what we deemed the maximum non-distorting volume — this is an impressive achievement considering that it runs on two AA alkaline batteries. Alternatively the speaker can be connected to USB for direct power.
One complaint may be that the speaker is too heavy — the addition of two AA batteries does give the S3 a significantly 'hefty' feel.
Despite its shortcomings, the low cost of the S3 makes it an attractive option for those wishing to access high-volume audio on the move. Its advantages over integrated laptop audio and an iPod's speaker are even more palpable considering its price advantages over similar devices like the Altec Lansing orbit MP3 (IM237).
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