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Compact and Portable Speakers

If you want to take your tunes with you—or if you want a system that doesn’t clutter your room with cables—a traditional speaker system just won’t do. Here are six self-contained speakers that are small enough to fit on a dresser or a counter—or to slip into a suitcase for a long trip. These systems don’t provide the same sound quality as comparably priced 2.1 systems, but they make up for this in convenience.

Budget Buy: TravelSound 200

Price $50
Contact: Creative Technology

TravelSound 200
Why We Like It: It’s tough to find good inexpensive portable speakers, so the TravelSound 200 impressed us. You won’t get a lot of bass or volume, but you will get good stereo sound in a compact—if some-what chunky—package. The system connects to any iPod or laptop.

Battery Life: up to 25 hours on four AA batteries
Weight: 10 ounces

Compact Companions: inMotion iM3 and inMotion iMmini

Price: iMmini, $130; iM3, $180
Contact: Altec Lansing

inMotion iMmini
Why We Like It: The iM3 and iMmini (pictured here) both provide good sound in a package that folds up to about the size of a paperback book. The iMmini’s dock base accommodates only the iPod mini, while the iM3 can hold most dockable iPods. (The company should have an adapter for the iPod photo by the time you read this.) You can connect nondocking iPods or other audio sources to either model using a standard audio minijack cable. Both models will charge a docked iPod when connected to AC power and can sync a docked iPod with your Mac via Apple’s dock cable. The iM3 also includes a nifty remote that lets you control playback from across the room.

Battery Life: up to 20 hours on four AA batteries
Weight: iMmini, 15 ounces; iM3, 1 pound, 2 ounces

Stylish Setting: On Stage

Price: $200
Contact: JBL

JBL On Stage
Why We Like It: The On Stage places four speakers in a cool, doughnut-shaped design. You won’t get a lot of bass, but the sound is otherwise impressive—especially the treble detail. The On Stage fits all dockable iPods except the iPod photo and can even serve as a replacement dock. (You can connect older iPods, the iPod photo, and other audio sources via a standard 1/8 audio cable.) We just wish it had a remote.

Battery Life: AC only
Weight: 1 pound

Splurgeworthy: SoundDock

Price: $299
Contact: Bose

Bose SoundDock
Why We Like It: Bose’s SoundDock won’t easily fit into your suitcase, but it will give you quick access to your music from any room in the house. Thanks to its larger speaker drivers and AC-only power, the SoundDock produces more bass and louder output than more-compact models. (It’s compatible only with dockable iPod models.) It also comes with a well-designed wireless remote.

Battery Life: AC only
Weight: 4 pounds, 10 ounces

Radio Lover: iPAL

Price: $130
Contact: Tivoli Audio

Why We Like It: The iPAL’s weather-resistant enclosure is perfect for listening to an iPod or laptop at the beach or in the backyard. And in case you get tired of listening to MP3s, the iPAL has one of the best AM/FM radios on the market. Despite its single speaker, we actually preferred the iPAL’s full-bodied sound to that of many other portable speakers we auditioned. An optional $30 carrying case makes it easy to tote your iPAL along with an iPod, earbuds, and cables.

Battery Life: up to 20 hours on an internal rechargeable battery
Weight: 2 pounds

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