DLO Portable iPhone Speakers Review

I am continually surprised at the lack of external portable speaker gizmos for the iPhone. Plenty of them out there for the various iPods, of course, but the iPhone? There’s kind of a shortage.

DLO thinks they have the answer with their new portable iPhone speakers.

I’ve wanted a pair of external speakers for my iPhone almost since I got it. Yeah, yeah; I can run iTunes from my PC when I’m at my desk, but I want something I can tote around. I want to have it there on my bed while I’m reading, or in the car, or wherever. Sure, I can use earbuds or headphones, but aside from my native irritation with wires, there’s the whole clip to the beltloop/unclip/is it plugged in?/ack I’m caught on the seatbelt again problems.

You know what I’m talking about. (To say I’m eagerly waiting for the iPhone to have A2DP support is putting it mildly.)

Anywho, DLO kindly sent me a set of speakers designed specifically for the iPhone, and I gave ’em a Gear Diary test drive.

First, I have to say I loved how the speakers work in travel mode:

DLO speaker-travel mode
click thumbnails for full size photo

You get this egg-shaped flat-black plastic deal, and there a place for all the wires. It’s pretty slick.

Unfortunately, unpacking it and getting it all set up is a bit of a pain. First you have to uncoil all the wires from the middle of the egg (augh! wires!), and then you pry the two speakers out from the base unit. Then you have to plug the two speaker wires into their proper jack, plug the A/C adapter wire in. There is also Yet Another Wire for the iPhone headphone jack.

DLO speakers - wires

All this is livable, if not quite in the “open it up and slot the iPhone in” category that, say, the iHome. But this brings us to the real downers of this product.

First, the stand that holds the iPhone is a separate piece that does not fold up, slot into, or otherwise get packed up with the “egg” unit.

DLO speaker-stand

This stand is fairly flimsy plastic, and having to carry it separately is, well, bogus. It is ripe for breakage if you were to, for example, shove it into your briefcase or shoulder bag or whatever. And the probability of losing it is pretty high.

Second, the iPhone does not attach to the stand in any way; it simply lays there, letting gravity hold it down. To say this made me nervous is an understatement; I really don’t feel comfortable with my $400 iPhone just sort of sitting there, a target for children, dogs, cats, random breezes, and any other vectors of Murphy’s Law that would like my iPhone busted.

DLO speaker-with iPhone

Finally, the controls on the unit. Or to put it more specifically, the lack of controls. The DLO speaker base unit only has one control: an on/off switch (awkwardly located on the top of the base, i.e. directly under where the stand and iPhone sit). There is no external volume control, fast forward/rewind, pause, skip, or other control. All control of the music is done through the iPhone itself. Given that the iPhone is not clipped in (it’s just a’leanin’ there!), and given that you have to turn on the iPhone to get at the iPhone’s own controls, that’s a real problem.

So the bottom line is, I can’t recommend this device, even though I really love the look of it. It needs some real tweaking before it’s ready, in my view.

MSRP: $50, various retailers (or DLO)
What I Liked: The nifty, egg-shaped design
What Needs Improvement: The iPhone stand, external controls

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