The Wowee One portable speaker works off the concept of using surfaces, such as tables or walls, as speakers, letting science and vibrations do most of the work.
It isn't the first to use this concept, and it's not entirely without speaker cones; a regular loudspeaker tweeter sits inside the unit, creating a sound similar to what you'd hear from a laptop.
Lay it down on a surface, though, and things improve dramatically. However, you won't want to put it on a table you're working on, as the vibrations are likely to irritate, but it certainly brings a decent whack of rumble and boom to your audio. The more chance you give the sound to reverberate, the more it improves the sound quality and volume: attach it to a plastic bin, and you'll get more definition and oomph than if you just put it against the wall. Even placing it on a trestle table that was slightly hollowed out underneath improved sound dramatically, compared to a plain, flat surface.
It's no miracle speaker — the bass tends to vibrate a little too much and gets muddy — but it's a heck of a lot better than your standard laptop or phone speaker fare, and the distance the audio travels is quite surprising.
Wowee calls the tech Gel Audio, presumably after the soft, slightly tacky surface that's on the bottom, to provide grip. There's not enough grip, though; we found that during particularly bassy sounds, the speaker would vibrate and move, requiring us to put something on top to hold it down, and, after a while, quite a bit of muck had attached itself to the surface. You can get new adhesive material, if you desire, but, of course, it will cost you — AU$14.95 for a pack of five.
Audio is piped in via a 3.5mm line-in jack, while the battery inside is charged over USB, which lasted for around 5.5 hours of music playback in our tests.
In the US, it'll set you back US$59.95, placing it comfortably in the impulse-buy category. It's a bit of a shock, then, that the Australian price is AU$99.95. The dollar might be declining (at US$0.9777 at the time of writing), but we're not back in the US$0.65 days by a long shot, so the huge mark-up is a bitter pill to swallow.
The Wowee One Power Bass portable speaker does as promised: adds more bass to your sound, by putting it on a surface. Its target market is limited, but for its niche, it does quite well.