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Durban - There was a time, not so long ago, that music lovers looking to connect their smartphones to a speaker and inflict their latest musical discoveries on their family and friends had a huge range of docking systems to choose from… as long as they owned one brand of phone (clue: it’s got a picture of an apple on the back).
If your phone was made by any other manufacturer, your chances of finding a dock were slim. If you were persistent and lucky, you might have tracked one down that let you connect your phone via an auxiliary cable from the headphone socket. It worked, but it meant you had to get up and walk over to the phone every time you wanted to change tracks as the fancy cordless remotes that came with such devices only worked with iPhones.
That’s all starting to change as the makers of music docks slowly wake up to a reality that’s been irking hipsters no end for the past year or so – the world’s biggest smartphone maker isn’t Apple any more. It’s, sob, Samsung.
As a result, there are now a range of docks for Samsung phones and tablets.
But for me they miss the point of the lesson behind Apple’s slide into second place. Given the pace of change in the tech world, and mobile in particular, who knows which phone maker will be top dog in a year’s time?
A few clever gadget makers have taken another tack, opting to build a music player that works with any smartphone – even if the manufacturer decides to change the size of the docking port on its latest handset, making all previous docks obsolete (yes, it’s got a picture of an apple on the back).
That’s because this new breed of music player doesn’t use a physical dock as the point of contact, but a wireless technology that’s been around for more than 15 years – Bluetooth.
Most of these players start at R1 500 and many will set you back R2 500 or more.
Never slow to spot a trend, the canny guys at Tevo (distributors of the ubiquitous shoX mini speakers) have brought out a player that’s a lot easier on the wallet (R600) but is also portable, lightweight and packs a pretty decent audio punch to boot.
It’s called the shoX Spin and, although bigger than it’s golf ball-sized predecessor, it’s certainly no heavyweight at just 30cm long. But don’t be deceived by its dinky dimensions.
I confess I wasn’t overly impressed when I unpacked my review unit, despite its eye-catching twisted rectangle design. Surely something that size can’t produce decent sound, I thought as I paired it to my phone – a painlessly simple process.
Then I pressed play on my phone’s music app and the room filled with sound so unexpectedly rich and loud that I thought at first I must have made a mistake and connected to another, far more expensive music system.
Impressed, I took a closer look and spotted two rubber feet underneath the unit. Place it on a resonating surface like a wooden table, as I did, and this little powerhouse pumps out sound seemingly far in excess of the advertised 7.5 watts from the two tiny stereo speakers hidden under its plastic skin.
Granted, it’s a little lacking in bass and you probably wouldn’t want to use it in a hall packed with partygoers, but it’s more than adequate for entertaining a bunch of mates at home. And unlike most music players that need mains power to work, the shoX Spin is rechargeable, so you can take it with you to that braai or on holiday. Tevo claims a five-hour battery life, which I confirmed with several tests.
The Bluetooth connection works well up to 15m and my unit connected flawlessly to every phone I paired it with (even the one with the apple on the back).
There’s also a built-in microphone, so you can use the Spin as a hands-free speakerphone to take a call or have a Skype chat with your gran. For non-Bluetooth devices like older iPods, there’s a 3.5mm jack so you can connect the old-fashioned way with the included auxiliary cable.
Look out for the shoX Spin at DionWired, Makro, Game, Look & Listen, Musica, Incredible Connection and HiFi Corp, or get it directly from Tevo at 0861 77 88 88 or www.tevo.co.za - Sunday Tribune