Finding portable speakers for your iPod or other MP3 player isn't much of a challenge. Manufacturers have made speakers ranging from the pocketable to the boom boxy in terms of size and design. However, if you want a tiny speaker with an MP3 player built right in, look no further than the X-Mini Happy, an itty-bitty portable music player with an all-in-one design. This little unit retails for about $100 and offers solid sound quality and an impressive array of features. If you're on the market for a simple way to share tunes on the go, this product is definitely worth consideration.
The X-Mini Happy could almost fit in a pocket, if not for its bulbous shape. When the unit is twisted down and locked for transport, it measures just 1.6 inches high and 2.2 inches in diameter. Popping the unit out extends the height to about 2.5 inches and reveals an accordion-style "subwoofer" of sorts that maximizes bass. Around the base of each speaker you'll find a variety of ports and controls; the bottom stows an integrated stereo patch cable for connecting any external audio source with a standard 3.5mm headphone jack. There's also an LED that glows blue during charging, static red when the speakers are powered on, and flashes red while songs are playing through the internal memory.
Actually, the memory is not quite internal, as the X-Mini Happy has a built-in SD card slot for this purpose. Two handy extras are included to this end: a 2GB microSD card and a standard SD-to-microSD adapter card. This means the player can accept either the larger or the smaller media, which is very cool. Other ports include a Mini-USB for charging and syncing and a 3.5mm jack that lets you "daisy-chain" other X-Mini speakers to create a more dynamic sound space.
The speaker also acts as an MP3 player, so there are playback controls, as well. Well, perhaps it would be more accurate to say playback control. One jog button serves to power on the unit, play and pause music, skip forward and backward through tracks, and adjust volume. As such, you may find yourself skipping tracks when you meant to change volume and vice versa. There is no navigation to speak of: you just drag and drop tracks (MP3 and WMA are supported) via Windows Explorer or Mac Finder. There also seems to be no rhyme or reason as to how the songs are played, as a different track starts up every time you power on the device, so we were led to believe the player is on perma-shuffle. We don't really mind this, but it is a bit bothersome that the speaker blasts out at top volume each time you turn it on.
Still, the loudness of the X-Mini Happy is definitely impressive for its size. At top volume, the little guy will literally rattle and shake its way across a surface, and with very little distortion for most songs--an extraordinary feat for a speaker this small. Indeed, the overall performance of the X-Mini Happy made us, well, happy. Audio comes through clear, with nice warmth and richness through the mids. There is a reasonable amount of resonance across the low end, but bass is not as thumping as what you would expect from larger speakers. Again, this isn't really a slight, given the tiny size of the unit. All in all, we have no problem recommending the X-Mini Happy to anyone looking for an ultraportable music system or an extra speaker for traveling.