Portable speakers and iPod Docks are all the rage these days and are steadily getting to be quite affordable. Of course, you can’t expect high-quality products at seriously-low prices but there are those exceptions to the rule that crop up every now and then. Zebronics has been known to offer some innovative products at low costs like this, the Zebronics Nitro portable speaker. It’s very reasonably priced but is it the exception to the rule? Read on to find out.
Although it’s shaped a bit like a girls clutch bag, the Zebronics Nitro is nevertheless a very neat looking device. It’s light-weight device that can be easily carried in a bag without making you feel weighed down. The funky red plating with jazzy graphics accentuates the overall design of the Zebronics Nitro making it quite an eye catcher. A set of volume/skip keys are located on the top right hands side right beside a Play/Pause button.
Quite a catchy looking design
On the right side of the Nitro is where you’ll find a 3.5mm earphone socket, power button with a blue led ring that blinks when the battery is low, and an SDHC memory card slot. At the rear is a mini USB port for the charger a 3.5mm Line In socket for connecting external devices and a standard USB 2.0 port for plugging in thumb drives. A little compartment can be popped opened at the back to reveal a BL-5C Li-ion battery. The BL-5C was the same battery that, in 2007, raised a bit of ruckus in the mobile community due to a fault in its design. If you ever need to open the compartment for some reason, it’s not going to be an easy task.
Zebronics has thrown in a little tether with a small circular dial that can be inserted into a slot under the battery compartment to prop the Nitro upright.
The Zebronics Nitro can easily read all your music files off your memory cards or pen drives. It automatically locates the folders where your files are stored and can even remember which song you stopped on for instant playback when you restart the device. It won’t log the exact space you stopped, then again, it isn’t really necessary. An added feature is the built-in FM radio. It has no option for storing presets so you simply hit the skip option to move from one station to the next. Reception in most indoor spaces was not very good but outdoors it was quite clear.
MicroSD cards? No sweat
Audio quality was surprising quite good. Tones were slightly off balance when it came to the higher and mid range sections, but what can you expect from 2 3.5+32mm drivers. Still, the bass levels on this Nitro proved to be adequate enough to compensate a bit. In a large closed room the decibel level is loud and tones are clear but gets a distorted a bit when the volume is peaked. I tested the Nitro with high end mobiles, PMP’s, MP3 players as well as memory cards and thumb drives. It handled them all well. When it comes to external sources though, you might want to makes sure you keep the devices volume adequately proportioned and raise the volume of the Nitro.
EQ presets on your portable device do make a difference and the Nitro was able to handle the likes of the iPhone, iPad 2, LG Optimus 2X and a few media players quite well. It’s not going to provide you with a loud thumping bass line but is quite decent for a speaker of this size and especially in this price range.
Plug in a thumb drive and you're good to go
One major flaw in the Nitro’s otherwise decent round of features is that an the speakers emit a low but audible ‘hiss’ when you’ve got it connected to DC and you’re playing music. It was absent when running off the battery. Incidentally, the Zebronics Nitro’s BL-5C battery is capable of just about two hours of non stop playback. That’s not really great if you’re looking for something more powerful in this segment. However, it is, once again, just adequate, all things considered.
It's light weight and not too hard to carry around
The Bottom Line
With a price tag of Rs. 950, the Zebronics Nitro portable speaker unit actually comes off as a value of money. It’s battery life, as I mentioned isn’t it’s greatest asset but the fact that it can dish out a decent tone quality and supports multiple music formats and input options makes it worthy your consideration if you like having a little music with you when you picnicking or chilling out in your room. It’s a well designed, funky looking product that I would honestly have never considered a sensible product if it were over Rs. 1,100.