The Gadget Girl: JBL's New Portable Speakers Produce Big Sound From Small Packages

Powerful portable speakers can transform a digital music player into a stereo system or change a personal video player into an on-the-go mini-cinema. The speakers shown here look good, sound better than you'd think by looking at them, and are surprisingly inexpensive. I sampled JBL's latest gear while at CEDIA. The company's 2.1-channel speaker systems are perfect for an MP3 player, DVD player, PC, laptop, or gaming console. The mod-inspired subwoofer that comes with the plug-and-play Spot ($130, bottom) has interchangeable black and white speaker covers. Additional covers, called JBL Wrappers, are sold separately so you can personalize your system many times over. Design-wise, I like the Spyro ($130, middle) even more. It has daisy-shaped speakers and comes in white, black, fuchsia, and retro blue. Yes, the speakers are small, but don't be fooled; I was pleasantly surprised by their big sound. Radial ($300, top) is yet another of those entertainment docks for your iPod, but it's eye-catching and sounds great. The rich, distortion-free bass and detailed, room-filling sound make it a terrific buy. Available in black or white with chrome accents, the Radial produces 60 watts of power for its four full-range drivers. The volume buttons are on the front of the enclosure, but you can use the RF remote for other functions such as changing tracks or scrolling through your library. And the Radial refuels your iPod while it's docked.

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