MSI has long pushed the boundaries of invention with its ever-evolving range of laptops but it has now pulled off a world first with the new MSI Creative 17.
Toshiba TY-SP1 Bluetooth speaker
A small and portable Bluetooth speaker that puts out decent sound and can be used as a speaker phone
- Good overall sound
- All-day battery life (up to 8 hours)
- Small and stylish
- Blue status light is annoying
- Mono audio
Despite its small size, Toshiba's TY-SP1 can put out a decent amount of power. It can be used effectively in a wide variety of locations, from a kitchen to a boardroom, and it also has a speaker phone function for calls.
Price$ 59.00 (AUD)
Toshiba's little TY-SP1 Bluetooth speaker may not be as flashy as the Beats by Dre Pill, nor can it serve up sound quality as good as the Bose SoundLink Mini. Instead, it's a simple and relatively inexpensive speaker that's designed to suit portable audio requirements around the home or at the office.
It's a small and portable speaker, with a total diameter of about 80mm and a height of about 45mm, and it houses a 40mm driver that's aided by a bass radiator. This radiator uses the rear sound waves that are generated by the driver to reinforce the bass — if you look carefully, you can see the radiator move when you play something with lots of bass. This is used as an alternative to a bass port, and is said to be a better solution for small enclosures such as this. The end result is a speaker that can put out a decent amount of sound from a small space, and it will let you hear a full range of frequencies for the most part. We think it would serve well as a speaker for a small bedroom, a kitchen, or maybe even as a presentation tool in a boardroom.
Bluetooth 3.0 + EDR is supported, and you can use it easily with a smartphone or a laptop; all you have to do is set the speaker's switch to Bluetooth, enable Bluetooth on your phone or laptop, and tap on the Toshiba TY-SP1 device that shows up in the discovery list. Once paired, you will be able to funnel all the sound from your device through the Toshiba speaker, including calls. We had no problems pairing it with our test phones (a Samsung Galaxy Note II and a Nokia Lumia 925), and it was also a trouble-free experience when connecting to it from our test laptops.
While it's an ideal speaker for listening to music off a smartphone or for using it as a hands-free speaker for calls (it has a built-in microphone and a hands-free button), we think a speaker like this also makes a good alternative to using the built-in speakers on most laptops, mainly because it can give you a fuller, crisper, and louder sound (especially if you have an Ultrabook). The only drawback is that it will be mono sound rather than stereo.
The loudness of the speaker is enough to make listening to music enjoyable in small areas, and we found it to be a particularly useful option for the kitchen. We placed the speaker on a shelf high up so it would be out of harms way, and the phone was just in the next room, about 4m away (rather than in our pocket). We found that we could use the speaker when it was about 6m away from our phone, and any further than that caused the signal to break up in our environment.
One thing we found this speaker useful for is streaming Internet radio from our phone — think Shoutcast and Digitally Imported channels, or even ABC's Grandstand. However, the signal sometimes broke up when we used the 2.4GHz portion of our dual-band home network; we had much better results when hooking our phone up to the 5GHz network. For us, this was the most useful usage scenario, especially for rooms where it would not be possible to listen to these streams without headphones or a computer.
Toshiba says the speaker should give a playing time of about eight hours when operated at 75 per cent volume; we got just short of 12 hours at about 50 per cent volume before the speaker started beeping in a startling fashion to let us know it was running out of puff. It can be charged via mini-USB and a cable is supplied. A line input port is also present, so you can use the portable speaker to tap into audio devices that have only a 3.5mm analogue output rather than Bluetooth; all you have to do is move the switch over to line in.
Overall, it's a nice little speaker that's useful if you want something portable to hear audio from smartphones and laptops. We found its sound quality to be very good, but it did struggle a little with some bass-heavy R&B and hip-hop tracks that we played at high volume levels. We think it's great as a speaker for the kitchen, or even as something for a bookshelf or bedside table. However, if you use it at night in your bedroom, you might get very annoyed at the blue light that flashes every few seconds to signify that Bluetooth is in use.
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