Unfortunately, when it comes to sharing digital music with friends, there aren't too many eco-friendly portable speaker options available for the discerning green consumer. When such things do make an appearance, they tend to be acoustic docks made from materials like bamboo (think iBamboo) that simply boost the source audio in a similar way to using an old-fashioned horn speaker, or otherwise get their power from renewable resources (as with the SoliCharger or Rukus, for instance). The Pulpop MP3 speaker designed by Balance Wu and Chin Yang takes a slight diversion from such norms. It's made from recycled paper pulp and uses of vibration speaker technology to amplify the source audio through the surface on which it stands and the hollow space inside the doughnut.
When FeONIC Technology's SoundBug first appeared in 2002, I was intrigued by the claims of being able to turn any flat surface into a speaker. The reality, however, was something of a let down. The quality of the music that seemed to be coming from windows, mirrors and tables varied considerably from surface to surface but never offered nearly enough bass presence to satisfy my tastes. The Pulpop MP3 speaker is claimed to give crisp, crystal clear and enriched sonic output, which can be felt as well as heard.
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As sound doesn't usually travel well through paper, the hollow loop doughnut shape is said to provide enough surface area to distribute sound more evenly and "allow the biggest resonance of vibration to travel 360 degrees throughout the speaker."
The hollow ring is made from eco-friendly paper pulp paste that's molded under high temperature and high pressure. Paper density, temperature control, and even the craftsmanship of those involved in the manual side of each unit's creation can all have an influence on the finished piece. Something that's not mentioned in the specs but is an obvious bonus is that the outer shell will also be biodegradable, although the small amount of internal electronics will need to stripped out before disposal.
Sounds from the digital music player are fed into the electronics via Pulpop's 3.5mm input jack, after which it's said to provide mono output of up to 5-watts RMS. The included 3.7V/600mA rechargeable battery is juiced up via an included USB charging port, although there's no mention of charging times or how long you'll be able to use Pulpop before needing to seek out some power.
It's an attractive and unusual green audio sharing solution but with dimensions of 10.2 x 11.6 x 2.4-inches (259 x 294 x 60 mm), portability could be a problem - particularly as you're not really going to want to take the risk of damaging/denting the paper doughnut by stuffing the speaker into your backpack.
Pulpop is priced at US$56, which is a good deal cheaper than the latest version of the SoundBug, although the latter does offer Bluetooth wireless connectivity and both left and right channel speakers.
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