It's a mark of achievement when competitors start making clones of your product. Apple's one such trendsetter, and XM-I may be another. Though definitely not in the big boys league, the Singapore-based company has blown us away over the years with its "little speakers, mighty sounds" innovative spunk. Having scored a red-dot winner with its first X-mini outing, and following this up with the X-mini Max stereo and its clever magnetic hamburger halves, it's now continuing the momentum with the X-mini II.
At first glance, generation two is incrementally larger than its pocket-size predecessor at about 2.9 ounces, though the audio boost is also markedly enhanced, thanks to a larger 40mm driver. When we tried both out on a laptop, the ramp-up in sonics was clearly audible. However, heavy beats and the larger driver caused the X-mini II to play hopscotch across the table, unlike the X-mini, though this is a minor gripe.
But what's a lot more interesting is the new buddy jack with a built-in 3.5mm audio cable that's designed to tuck away neatly into the base. XM-I CEO Ryan Lee told CNET Asia that the new feature is more modular, letting users form an almost endless daisy chain of their X-mini IIs for more volume. It's frightfully loud, all right.
In a demo where they rigged up seven speakers, it got so deafening in the Lab that our senior editor almost cried mama. We did note that linking two together will still give you mono sounds, though the bass-enhanced impact of several booming speakers made the difference moot.
Design-wise, the X-mini II retains its original's winning capsule form, with minor tweaks to discern it from its 1.5-year-old predecessor. The tweeter and logo have been given a dash of color, while the protective cap over this has been stylized into a bar. We liked the new look but didn't like that the tweeter was now also more exposed to knocks. Charging continues to happen via a mini-USB port, which is great since you can use a standard mini-USB wire if you forget to pack along the bundled cable.
Other enhancements we liked: the two-step volume switch is now a dial for greater control, while the rechargeable battery has been jacked up to three times the capacity for a claimed marathon 12 hours of audio output.
So is this worth upgrading from your X-mini? A resounding yes, yes, and yes for the richer and fuller sonics, the greater convenience of a built-in audio cable, and the longer battery life. Even sweeter is the proposed sticker price of $29.
The X-mini II will ship in matte black with red tweeter when it launches globally starting in March.
(Source: Crave Asia)