FiiO has taken the portable audio world off guard with the high quality E3 and E5 headphone amps, disproving the rumor that everything cheap and Chinese is crap. What many people might not know is that FiiO also makes other products and one of them is the PS1110 WalkBox portable speaker.
- FiiO PS1110 WalkBox Specs
- Dimensions: 110 x 58 x 19 mm
- Weight: 128 grams
- Colors: white
- Output: 1.2W+1.2W
- Power source: 2x AAA batteries, USB
- Price: $15
In the box
The box comes with the speaker, a USB cable, a short 3.5mm interconnect for connecting to devices and a pouch. The USB cable’s only purpose is for power and can not be used for getting audio from a computer. It does work with a USB AC adapter that while not included isn’t a big extra expense from any of the sites that sell this thing (see the “where to buy” section for links).
“Chinese” and “flimsy plastic” is more or less synonymous when it comes to low-priced products, but FiiO is really the exception to that rule. The top side of the WalkBox is actually metal, with the bottom being hard plastic. It feels very well made and not fragile at all. Considering the price, it’s difficult to believe how sturdy this thing is, but you will definitely not have to worry about breaking it easily.
The speaker is shaped like a box about the size of a 3-3.5″ player (iPod touch, Cowon S9, Samsung P3 etc) but a bit thicker and wider. The two speakers it has are located under a metal grill that’s part of the top faceplate. On is located in the top left corner (when holding it vertically with the input jack pointing down) and the other is below it to the right. The reason for this unsymmetrical placement is probably placement of internal air ducts that help with the sound quality, but I don’t know why they didn’t have one on each end of the thing to help the stereo effect.
On the back you have a battery door which hides the two AAA batteries. On the bottom is the USB port for power, the 3.5mm audio input jack and a switch for switching between battery power, USB power and turning the speaker off completely. On the right side is a set of digital volume buttons. The volume will reset when you turn it off, so you’ll be using these buttons a lot more than should be necessary.
Bottom line the design is good and very sturdy, impressively so actually. Metal parts is not something you see on that many consumer electronics today so it’s very nice to see it in a pair of $15 speakers. The size of the box is also very useful since it will even fit in your pocket without taking up too much space. The only complaint I have about the design is the lack of a stand of some sort as the speaker will have to lie down or stand upright which won’t provide the best angle for most situations.
When you first see how small this thing is, your first reaction will be “that can’t be too loud”. You’ll be wrong. When I first tested the volume of this thing, I had serious concerns about the neighbors as this will spit out enough volume to piss off people within a certain range. It’s by no means a full speaker system, but for the situations where you’d use such a speaker I doubt you”ll ever find the volume lacking. Check out the video below for a comparison with the FiiO S3 (review) and to see how loud this thing is.
Playing loud of course doesn’t mean it will sound any good, and there is a fair bit of distortion when you really crank up the volume, as well as crackling and the sound becoming tinny. With the volume at a more reasonable level it’s a lot better and it’s still loud enough for most uses. If you need clarity at max volume, the S3 will be a better choice, but for most uses you won’t have to set it so high that it becomes unbearable to listen to anyways.
As for the quality of the sound, it’s definitely a portable speaker, but it’s not bad at all. There is little bass, but not to the degree that it sounds too tinny, in fact there have been several times that I’ve been surprised that it has as much bass as it does. There’s also little sibilance unlike many other portable speakers that have trouble with this. You can basically compare it to a pair of cheap 2.0 PC speakers, the kind that comes with many computers or that you might have in your office. Nothing too spectacular, but it gets the job done. Portable speakers are mostly used for sharing with your friends or for other situations where sound quality isn’t the number one priority, and the WalkBox will do that job very well. Another use this will be very useful for is podcasts or audiobooks.
The WalkBox is a great little speaker easily worth several times the price and it gives you a decent speaker in a size that’s very portable. With this thing in your pocket your MP3 player can be turned into a small boombox wherever you are, and it will sound as good as other more expensive (less) portable speakers out there. Running off two AAA batteries means it’s easy to get some spare ones, but rechargeable ones might be best if you plan on relying on battery power a lot. I’m not sure about battery life yet as it relies a lot on volume on the speaker and what batteries you have, but it’s been running sporadically since I got it without being drained yet.
All in all a product well worth the cash and a very good choice for a portable speaker. I do however want to urge people to read the review of the FiiO S3 as well which is the PS1110′s “bigger brother” that also has a built in MP3 player.