Review: Naztech N15 3.5mm Mini Boom Speaker | webOS Nation

Review: Naztech N15 3.5mm Mini Boom Speaker 6

by Jonathan I Ezor#IM Sat, 11 Feb 2012 2:11 pm EST

While every webOS device comes with some kind of speaker, the TouchPad is the only one whose speaker is adequate to fill a (smallish) room. On the phones, even the rear speaker struggles to put out enough volume to allow sharing of music or other audio in a space with moderate or higher background noise. Given that webOS phones all support both standard 3.5mm headphone/speaker jacks (the Veer admittedly needing an adapter) and Bluetooth speakers, there are numerous options for boosting the sound so others can enjoy it too. Unfortunately, most of those external speakers are far less portable than the phone itself. There are, though, some speakers that offer both powered amplification and portability. One of these is the Naztech N15 3.55 Mini Boom Speaker, which additionally operates as a standalone MP3/WMA player (it accepts microSD cards as removable storage, and has minimal controls for music playback and track navigation). While the Naztech's design and standalone player capabilities are pluses, however, its minimal amplification power makes it a poor choice for webOS devices.

Naztech has done a nice job with the design of the N15. It folds to the size and shape of a flattened golf ball, with a recess for storing the non-removable (and very short at 2-3 inches) 3.5mm audio cable. Along the periphery of the speaker are the standalone music player controls, a miniUSB (not microUSB, unfortunately, meaning it cannot share charger cables with a webOS device) port, and the microSD slot. The play/pause button doubles as the power button for the speaker, and a blue LED lights up when the unit is powered on. Note that although the track forward and reverse buttons double as volume controls for standalone play, they do not affect volume when the N15 is connected to an external sound source. According to Naztech, the N15 provides 2 watts of speaker output, and its 3.7 volt lithium ion battery charges (via a powered USB port or charger) in 4 hours. Naztech does not provide any play time details, and our testing did not extend to battery life.

In its folded configuration, the N15 plays sound upward. With a slight twist, though, the two halves of the Naztech separate, revealing an accordion-pleated connecting sleeve that enables the N15 to be placed on its side; the sound when opened is also slightly richer, although no louder, which highlights the biggest failing of the N15: it doesn't add much actual volume to that produced by some webOS phones. In our testing (using the free webOS application SPL Meter), the N15 and the Pre3's built-in speaker peaked within 1 Decibel of each other (81-82) playing the same song at maximum volume. As for the TouchPad, its speakers (once boosted with webOS Internals' Increase TouchPad Volume or bi0tech's TouchVol) far outstrip the N15; the same song peaked at more than 90 Decibels when played via the TouchPad.

The Naztech N15 offers creative design (and comes in three colors: black, blue and pink), and may be useful for devices without adequate speakers and for occasional standalone audio play. As an accessory for weboS devices, though, it does not offer much additional utility.