Ottawa PC Users' Group, Inc.
by Chris Taylor
I give a lot
of presentations. This entails schlepping around a modest
amount of equipment, including a netbook, an AC adapter,
a network cable, a VGA cable and a remote I use to drive
PowerPoint presentations. Recently, I bought a tiny pico
projector in case the projector supplied at my
destination is missing or dies. And the projector has an
AC adapter, a VGA cable, and an HDMI cable.
Last year, a couple of new presentations included video
clips. Given that my netbook speakers really
couldnt pump out the volume I needed, I started
carrying around some desktop speakers. That got old after
one time and I went looking for some portable speakers.
At Future Shop, I found an Insignia USB Sound Bar. At
$38, this 9 long speaker clipped to the top of the
screen and put out a higher volume than the speakers
built into my netbook. And life was good.
Well, perhaps better is more accurate. I
could live with it, but I found even the portable speaker
was a bit on the large size.
Last spring, I attended an IT Architect Forum hosted by
Microsoft and at the registration table they had a couple
of door prizes. One caught my eye the shoX mini
speaker from Genumark in Toronto. The box proudly
proclaimed mini size MAX sound! I could
attest to the mini size part the shoX
is about 2 inches in diameter and just shy of 1.5 inches
high when closed. When opened (more on this later) it
stands 2 inches tall. But MAX sound? Out of
such a small package? I doubted it.
I didnt win the door prize, but I jotted down the
web site listed on the box. Recently I came across my
notes and visited the web site. I decided it looked
interesting enough to give it a try.
When my shoX arrived, I plugged it in, expecting decent
quality sound. I was plainly wrong in this regard. The
sound quality was not decent. It was
amazing. Not trusting my tin ears, I called
my son into the room. Michael likes his music. He is in
his 4th year of a music program at Ottawa University. He
has 5.1 surround sound on his computer. He refuses to use
the cheap ear-buds that came with his iPod, instead
opting for a pair that cost $180. When he decided to buy
an over- the-ears headset, he went for a Sennheiser that
was over $100 on sale. Suffice it to say, Michael knows
his music. I first played some music over the speakers
built into Shaula, my latest netbook an Asus
Lamborghini, which has a Bang & Olufsen ICEpowerŪ
sound system that Asus claims provides crystal
clear, dynamic and powerful sound thats bound to
sweep listeners off their feet and take them on a journey
of adventure, whatever their fancy.
It sounded pretty good. I then plugged in the shoX. A
burst of loud, rich music flooded the room. The
improvement was huge!
Michael grabbed the shoX, headed to the computer room and
went sifting through his music library. When I asked what
he was doing. I got hushed up. He was obviously deep in
concentration. Finding what he wanted, he played a
passage through his Logitech 5.1 surround sound speakers.
Cello music filled the room. Did I mention Michael likes
his music loud? He then plugged in the shoX mini speaker.
I wont insult anyones intelligence by saying
the shoX mini speaker was better than the 5.1 surround
sound. But it was amazingly close. Michael switched back
and forth between the two and finally said,
Thats incredible. I chose this music because
when you have harmonies with multiple parts that are
similar and overlaid, poor quality speakers cause the
multiple instruments to muddle together. But the shoX
reproduces the sound so they can all be clearly
Over the next few days, as I demoed the shoX to multiple
people, everyone showed similar amazement at the quality
of the sound that comes out of the shoX.
A closer look at the shoX
The shoX mini speaker is a
marvelous little round disk with a single speaker
pointing directly up. In the closed position, it produces
good sound. If you open it by twisting it slightly, it
pops up an additional half-inch or so in height. This
opens a chamber within the shoX and increases the bass
quality with what Genumark calls their patented v-bass
The shoX is a powered speaker with a built-in lithium
battery that charges by plugging it into a
computers USB port in 3 to 4 hours. Once charged,
it will operate for 3 to 5 hours depending on volume. My
contact at Genumark mentioned that you can also charge
the shoX using any wall-plug adapter that has a USB
mini-B output (this includes many MP3 players and cell
phones) and charge the shoX in as little as one hour.
The speaker outputs a quite loud 2.4 W. I tried it in the
auditorium at the Museum where we meet and, at half
volume, it was pretty easy to hear even at the back.
The shoX can be used on any device that accepts a
standard 3.5mm audio jack. This includes most computers,
laptops, netbooks, MP3 players, smart phones, etc.
The single port on the shoX is a
standard USB mini-B. However, the supplied cable is
definitely not standard. It has two cords that come out
of the mini-B plug. One ends in a USB Standard A plug
that will plug into a computers USB port to charge
the shoX. The other ends in a standard 3.5 mm audio jack.
If lost or damaged, I know I could charge the shoX with
an off-the-shelf USB cable. However, I have not seen a
cable that has a 3.5 mm audio plug at one end and a mini
USB at the other. I think my only chance of a replacement
would be from Genumark. I would have preferred the audio
connecting through a separate audio cable with standard
3.5 mm audio plugs at both ends.
Another concern I have with the shoX is the cost of
shipping. The speaker is not available through any retail
stores. You can only get it by ordering it off the
Genumark web site or in person at their offices in
Toronto. The cheapest shipping method is UPS Standard at
$13.66. This feels a little pricy on an item that only
Both my concerns are very minor. The main thing about the
shoX mini speaker is the incredible sound that comes out
of it. And I have absolutely no concerns over this. This
is one amazing little device that has a permanent place
in my bag of goodies I haul around with Shaula.
Price: $29.95 (plus $13.66 shipping)
web site: http://www.shoxmini.com
Click here to view the
full OPCUG website with frames.
Copyright and Usage
Ottawa Personal Computer Users' Group (OPCUG), Inc.
3 Thatcher Street, Ottawa, ON K2G 1S6
opinions expressed in these reviews do not necessarily
represent the views of the OPCUG or its members.
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