By BENJAMIN ROMAN
The great outdoors can be a welcome escape from technology. But when it comes to music, I often like to bring a little gadgetry with me. The Tune Up ($149.95, www.gettunedupnow.com) is a portable mini-speaker that was just released. I had the chance to take one for a test drive last month.
The Tune Up is a dual-speaker unit with a swivel bracket that secures an iPod Touch or iPhone. A rechargeable, internal Li-ion battery powers the unit, and the manufacturer promises up to 20 hours of music on a single charge. A 3.5mm headphone-style plug connects virtually any music player to the speaker, and the included clamp can mount the Tune Up in a convenient spot — for example, bicycle handlebars or a boat railing. Other specialty adapter mounts are available.
The Tune Up measures 6.5 inches long and weighs about half a pound. The mounting clamp and swivel bracket are sturdily built, but the exposed speaker ports make the Tune Up vulnerable to rain or moisture.
Another gripe: Despite the universal 3.5mm connection plug, the bracket only fits an iPod Classic, iPod Touch or iPhone. Other players like my iPod Nano just sit loosely on top.
I hesitated using the Tune Up for serious cycling. Its size and the fact that the attached iPod is left exposed made the proposition feel iffy. But for more casual uses like camping or travel, the Tune Up is a good way to share your music.
Sound quality is pretty decent for a mini-speaker, and it boasts magnetic shielding for distortion-free music. The minimalist bass won’t crack any windows, but I found the tone generally clear, and the Tune Up provided plenty of volume to fill an outdoor space like a campsite (up to 106 decibels, according to the manufacturer).
The bottom line: Although the Tune Up isn’t cheap and it lacks a universal iPod bracket or weatherproofing, its compact design and solid battery life make this portable speaker appropriate for travel and casual outdoor use.
—Contributor Benjamin Roman is a writer and design consultant from Venice, Calif.