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Gadgets & Gizmos: Small Is Big

The Mi speaker has a set of two drivers giving the sound enough of a punch, good enough with bass and higher frequencies

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It looks for all the world like a power bank. A solid block of metal with a grill like design on the front and nothing in particular on the other side. I was about to dismiss it as just another portable charger of say 20,000mAh, when someone pointed out it was actually a Bluetooth speaker. From Xiaomi, no less.

There's nothing unusual about tiny Bluetooth speakers. Except that this one has some surprising sound. It doesn't sound tinny, doesn't sound like a cheap shoddy quality thing that won't last the weekend — it actually has loud distortion-free sound. For something its size, the Mi speaker has sound good enough for a little room. Not really party material, but certainly the perfect thing if you're listening and want to take it from place to place. I find myself taking it to the kitchen when I'm making tea, setting it beside me as I do some writing and even putting it down nearby as I go about tidying the house. You could as well take it out somewhere because once you charge it up it carries on for about eight hours, which should be enough listening for anyone.

The Mi speaker has a set of two drivers giving the sound enough of a punch, good enough with bass and higher frequencies. You can also use it to talk on during phone calls because the device has a mic.

All this little thing costs is Rs 1999, buyable from the Xiaomi website It's a nice gift for yourself or someone else.

The design of the Mi Bluetooth speaker is as simple as it gets. It comes in several colours though what I saw was the plain silver finish one — or as I prefer to think of it, power-bank coloured.

The speaker has two rubbery strips on the bottom indicating which way is up and giving it a little grip on the surface on which it's set. The buttons are on the side. One is for power on/off. Two other buttons control the volume and track navigation. They are also used to play and pause. Long or short presses let you switch between the action needed. The fourth button is for Bluetooth pairing and also speaks out the battery status.

You can plug in any cable from a phone charger to charge the device. And you can use a stereo cable if you don't want to use Bluetooth at any point. In China, the gadget also comes with a MicroSD card slot so you can insert it with music and listen without taking up your phone's resources.