The room is almost completely dark. There is a single light source on this night of the October power outtage. It is Fellini’s 8 1/2 on an iPad screen. The images are sharp, contrasty, perfectly photographed in wonderful black-and-white. And, it sounds pretty good, too.
I love my iPad, but the sound is just awful. A dozen manufacturers now sell portable Bluetooth speakers. Some of these speakers are reasonably priced and sound good, too–but most are either over $100 or not worth the cost because they lack clarity, bass, punch, whatever. Forget about the Bluetooth part–it doesn’t work properly, it’s a technology that is far inferior to something much simpler: a $10 cable with one end that plugs into the speakers and the other end into the iPad. That combination is reliable enough to watch Fellini’s 8 1/2 with no interruption, and no Rice Krispies crinkling that is common among Bluetooth devices of all sorts, my little phone earpiece among them.
I’d love to tell you that I have secret source for the best sound at the best price. In fact, I found my speaker by making a friend of a salesperson at a local Best Buy store. As some of the salespeople are wont to do–provided there is no manager nearby–my guy opened several packages and allowed me to listen to several devices.
My favorite–still a favorite several months later, in fact–was the Logitech Wireless USB Speaker, which I use as neither a wireless device nor a USB device. It costs about $70, and comes with a carrying case. I leave it in my car’s trunk so that anywhere I go, it’s available. I’ve used it to entertain a group of people watching video from a computer screen (the computer’s speakers were crappy), and another group of people attempting to watch a projected image during an office presentation (the projector’s speakers were inadequate). During the summer, when I write on my porch on warm days, the speaker provides the background music. And on a dark and stormy night, it provides a clear, crisp, well-articulated soundtrack with a reasonable amount of bass.
I was less enthusiastic about the more expensive Jawbone Jambox, which costs twice as much and tends toward the boomy approach to bass. When I was shopping earlier this summer, there were few choices. Now, there are more. But I think I’ve found a good one, and I recommend it wholeheartedly.