A great boom box is more than a just a way to hear music, it's a declaration. It's a way to tell the world to put down those anemic-sounding speakerphones and the cute fold-flat iPod docks, and make room for a portable sound system with substance.
Making its debut in 2006, Harman Kardon's Go + Play transformed its user into an instant public nuisance. With its head-turning design and 120 watts of menacing power, it was a feast for both the eyes and ears. Unfortunately, the iPhone, iPod Touch, and subsequent generations of the iPod broke compatibility with the original Go + Play, or simply wouldn't fit in the dock. The titan of iPod boom boxes eventually phased out.
Reborn as the Go + Play Micro, Harman Kardon is putting a new spin on its iconic premium portable speaker system. But don't let the word "micro" fool you; the size of the boom box is nearly identical to its predecessor, losing only a half-inch in depth and 1.5 inches in width. There's also nothing small about the $399 retail price.
The sad truth is, the only things that have shrunk in the Go + Play Micro are the sound quality and the features. Some changes have been made for the better, and overall the Go + Play Micro still succeeds as a top-tier portable audio solution. Still, we couldn't help reminiscing over the Go + Play's former glory.
Like its predecessor, the Go + Play Micro has an unmistakable alien beauty coupled with a durable construction. The bulk of the system is housed in matte-black plastic, with brushed aluminum accents for the speaker grilles, buttons, and feet.
The most striking aspect of the design is the metal handle that arcs over the full length of the boom box. Not only is the handle aesthetically beautiful, but its inch-thick diameter is easy on your hands. Considering the Go + Play weighs in at around 8 pounds, a comfortable grip really helps.
One of the few gripes we had over the design of the original Go + Play was the horizontal iPod dock, which effectively blocked you from seeing the screen. The Micro solves the prior design problem by placing the dock at a forward slant, keeping your iPod or iPhone screen in full view while still keeping your device relatively secure. An adjustable screw within the dock helps to ensure a snug fit for whatever model of iPod or iPhone you're using. The downside to all this snugness is that the side walls of the Go + Play Micro can't accommodate the extra thickness added by iPhone or iPod cases (with the exception of the iPod Nano). If the thought of taking the case off your iPhone gives you a panic attack, then this isn't the speaker for you.
On the back of the Go + Play Micro you'll find a battery compartment for eight C-cell batteries, along with ports for the power adapter, USB pass-through, video output, and aux input. The nifty pop-out remote control storage compartment on the back of the original Go + Play has vanished. There's no use for it anyway, since the sexy little sculpted RF remote included with the original has been replaced with a forgettable IR remote. Usually we're just happy when a manufacturer includes a remote at all, but considering the price of the Go + Play, it seems a little skimpy for Harman Kardon to downgrade to a generic IR clicker.