Playing Sia’s Cheap Thrills on a lazy Saturday evening while sipping from a pint of Bud and overlooking Mumbai’s grand skyline, I recalled the old times when folks would bring home those fancy hi-fi systems, replete with their alien shaped speakers – the central unit duly emanating lights of a hundred hues. Oh, and there were a thousand buttons, to make you think the system had many ‘features’. We never had one, and I was more than happy with my Walkman back in the day. My neighbours, in the meantime duly turned the volume full level every morning, so I knew they had one such system; and that more importantly, I didn’t.
Things have come a long way since. The Boombox and Walkman were replaced by iPods and compact MP3 players which, after a short lifespan, themselves fell prey to changing times. Smartphones have taken over the entertainment tasks while online portals like Soundcloud and MySpace have replaced cassettes and CDs.
Those massive space hoggers (speakers) too have come a long way, finding existence in a more compact body. Compact, portable speakers which don’t occupy a room, and yet deliver crisp, reasonably loud sound are getting increasingly popular. Price is a bit of an issue here, though, as the desirable ones are quite expensive. Thankfully, some of the better known brands have identified the opportunity in the budget space and come out with some nice offerings. Do they deliver the goods? We test one of the most affordable Bluetooth speakers which comes from a very respected brand dating back to the 1930s, the Altec Lansing Dual Motion.
Let’s get it straight. It’s an economical product, so don’t expect any fancy packaging here. The speaker comes packed in a humble, transparent box which does not have any pretensions. It gives a nice view of the speaker, with the Altec Lansing tag sitting at the lower centre of the device. Inside the box, you get:
Visually, the device dons an all black matt finish with the Altec Lansing logo at the front bottom offering some contrast with its shiny silvery-aluminum finish. The device has four buttons on top, with the central volume rockers (which also double up as next / previous buttons) being flanked by ‘call answer’ and ‘play / pause’ buttons. These buttons are finished in glossy black, unlike the rest of the body. On top left, you have a strap to hold the device by. Power button, USB in and AUX in ports are at the back.
Audio is delivered through twin 1.75″ speakers while an onboard microphone is integrated to enable hands free communication.
The brief here was to create a simple, economical, rugged speaker system, and the designers have done a commendable job. The device gets a matte finish and until you try and feel the surface using your fingernails, it almost comes across as a rubber coating which is scratch resistant and may save the device from a tumble or two to a certain extent. The entire device, save for the front speaker mesh grille is made of plastic. You also get a strap on left-top of the speaker which can be used to hang it to a backpack and it looks pretty sturdy. The raised honeycomb mesh style surface at the back looks good while also offering enhanced grip for the hand.
Visually, the Dual Motion might not be the prettiest speaker on the market, but then again, at that price it isn’t supposed to be one. It’s well made though, and has a built-to-last, rugged feel to it. The design is simple and follows the times tested KISS philosophy. The glossy buttons on top are pretty tactile though the ON/OFF switch at the back isn’t the easiest to operate. We would’ve probably preferred a push ON/push OFF switch to perform the task. There’s absolutely nothing that’s a deal breaker here.
Output / Clarity / Performance
As aforementioned, this is a budget speaker, though the brand and its illustrious heritage made us let our expectations soar high. The Dual Motion did not disappoint… much. Connecting it to your Bluetooth enabled device is a piece of cake and you are ready to use the Altec Lansing Dual Motion Speaker within seconds of firing it ON. You can also connect it via AUX cable if you’re coming from the Jurassic age.
Move the teeny power toggle to the right and you are welcomed by a warm and welcoming female voice while Bluetooth connection is confirmed by a beep. We started off with some country music that would go easy on the speaker to test its audio quality and we were pretty impressed. It was crisp (for the segment) and at the same time relatively louder than some of its rivals. It delivers a decent performance in large environment, even outdoors where it is designed to spend most of its time. The battery is good for a six-hour playback which is quite commendable. Low to mid notes are handled particularly well. Turn up the volume to its higher ecehlons, though, and things get a little different.
As we pulled out the big guns with Linkin Park and Nucleya written in bold over them, this little friend of ours shows us some of its limitations. You see, the Dual Motion is meant for your everyday, easy listening. So if you wish listen to Black Sabbath and want to bang your head while being at it, you’d need a (much) bigger budget, with equally large space to match.
The Altec Lansing Dual Motion Speakers deliver well on treble count, though those bassy beats tend to get out of its control when the volume is turned up full blast. So while the dual speaker setup delivers a crisp listening experience at low to mid volume, going loud with bassy tunes isn’t best accomplished with this unit.
Then there is the performance in the AUX mode. The inbox AUX cable kept getting loose on more than just one occasion. The onboard controls won’t work in AUX mode and the play/pause button just mutes the sound while the song continues to go forward on the device.
The Bluetooth speaker also doubles up as a hands-free device and it does deliver good audio quality. But on the downside, we found that the person on the other end of the call could not hear us properly as the mic isn’t probably the most sensitive unit around.
Despite the Budget price tag, the Altec Lansing Dual Motion Speaker is a well built device, carries a premium brand name, is made to take an active lifestyle in its stride. It’s rugged enough to take the usual wear and tear which it may face outdoors without a hiccup. Add to that a decent six hour battery backup and the Dual Motion Speaker does sound like a good deal, especially for all those who want to carry it around. It pretty compact and lightweight and would easily find some space for itself in your bag after you’ve stuffed it with your clothes and toiletries.
We could have done with a bit deeper bass, and slightly better performance with the volume turned up fully. Then again, looking at that price tag of INR 1,999, we really think we are just nitpicking. It’s a well rounded product and offers great value for what it costs.
Check out the complete technical specifications below.
|AVERAGE BATTERY LIFE||UP TO 6 HOURS|
|PRODUCT DIMENSIONS||2.375″H X 6.625″W X 1.75″D|
|SPECIAL FEATURES||ONBOARD SONG NAVIGATION CONTROLS, INTEGRATED CARRY STRAP, USB CHARGING JACK, VOICE CONFIRMATION, AUX IN JACK.|
|PAIRING||BLUETOOTH WITH VOICE CONFIRMATION|
|DRIVERS||2 X 1.75″|
|COMPATIBILITY||APPLE, ANDROID, BLACKBERRY, TABLETS AND LAPTOPS|
|WIRELESS RANGE||33 FEET|
|ACCESSORIES||USB AND STEREO AUX CABLES|