Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

Disturbing the Peace

The Creative Labs D100. A wireless pairing button is at left of center, while volume buttons are toward the right.

The Creative Labs D100. A wireless pairing button is at left of center, while volume buttons are toward the right.

Yep, I like peace and quiet, you betcha. And now, only in recent times, do I get it. But when it comes movie or music time, I like sound at least a step up from the muted tinny sound of my laptop’s speakers. I have a fairly compact Aiwa speaker set with subwoofer in the Defiant, and that puppy can make lamps ring and panels buzz without going overboard on volume to do it. But it’s too large to transport in the Intrepid, and requires AC power. Playing movies in noisy backgrounds like truck stops and campsites in high wind can be futile and, as I learned while playing with videos, the visual aspect can be mediocre, but crisp, full-sounding audio can really pump the impact up. This goes for recorded music of course, but also for movies, podcasts, you name it. I noticed this years ago on NPR radio interviews, which had a “presence” far more engaging than the murky make-do mikes used by other networks.

What I wanted was a simple speaker that sounded decent, could pump its volume up beyond the limitations of its sound source, that could run on batteries or a plug-in power supply, and which could transfer sound by wireless Bluetooth or, in the event of a problem or situation, via common 3mm audio cable. The Creative D100 does all that, and can use rechargeable AA batteries as well as disposable alkalines. The D100 is the starter model for Creative’s line and, oddly, is the best suited for camper use. For example, the D200 must be plugged into an AC outlet to play – no batteries. The D100’s 5VDC power supply was not included with my $29 version, but is included with others. But, since it does not recharge any onboard batteries, I’m not bothering to cobble up or buy something any time soon. For users with ancient computers lacking stereo Bluetooth output, Creative also offers a USB Bluetooth adapter.

Left to right is the on/off switch, an aux input connector, and the optional power input.

Left to right is the on/off switch, an aux input connector, and the optional power input.

Much smaller speakers are available on the market, but the D100 works for me because it’s small enough and is a single unit to deal with. The carton it comes in is also sturdy enough to protect it in storage. Though the D100 won’t vibrate your glass across the table, its sound is quite good at this price point. I’m happy with it, though those people who must stay clear of Bluetooth wireless for health reasons may want to avoid it. An audio cable with 3mm plugs allows direct play, but I have no indication that this turns off the speaker’s Bluetooth circuitry. To use the D100 once you’ve paired it with your device the first time, you just turn on the power slider switch, give it a moment to broadcast, and tell your device to connect to it. Creative boasts that it can play for up to 25 hours on one set of four AAs, but I haven’t yet found the limit when using my rechargeable NiMH Eneloops. Creative cautions that Bluetooth has some inherent delay in it, so that audio may lag behind whatever’s going on onscreen. I’ve found no such issue, myself. Since most of my movies have a sound level that is too quiet, this speaker does the job, and then some. It’s good stuff.

 

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