Tylt Tunz: Handy portable speaker & charger for photographers

Like many photographers, I rely on my portable speaker when I travel. When giving slideshows, it adds punch to the soundtrack compared to my laptop – and I can place it someplace more central instead of where I happen to be standing. When I’m in the field, there are times when we also use bird calls (only on private ranches, in a very limited way, with non-threatened species!), and having a remote speaker is a must. Recently, I’ve been working with a cool, new one from Tylt – the Tunz – that also combines a battery pack you can use to recharge your phone…

The Tunz is a full-featured, and fairly full-throated, speaker, that can be wired into your phone or laptop, or can be connected over Bluetooth. I found that it worked well over Bluetooth at a range from 20 feet to 50 feet, depending on surroundings. If you wire it up, of course, range is only limited by your cable length. The speaker is composed of 2 3-watt drivers, and the case acts as a passive radiator. One handy feature is removable silicon bands that help dampen vibration (Tunz comes with a set of 3 in different colors, red, blue, and black – the unit above is pictured with the red one).

image

The unit is simple to pair, using the Bluetooth and phone buttons. When in use as a speaker phone, the phone button can also be used to answer, reject, or redial calls. The Bluetooth button can be used to pause and resume music – answering a call will do this automatically. The Tunz

The battery has a mid-sized 2800 MAh capacity (about 50% larger than that of a high-end smartphone). It will play music for 20 hours at 50% volume, or less if you’re using it to keep your phone charged at the same time. As a result, it isn’t space efficient if all you want is a charger (see the Energi below), but if you’re in the field and don’t want to empty your phone’s battery when you’re listening to music or using bird songs, this charger is a nice feature.

My only criticisms of the unit are that it doesn’t charge very quickly (at. 05 Amps) and the buttons on the top (volume, Bluetooth, and phone), don’t provide any tactile feedback. It’s not cheap, but at around $100, it is definitely competitive with other “speaker-only” models.

Tylt Energi and Energi-2: If you only need the charger

TYLT | Energi | Micro-USB

If all you need is a portable charger, Tylt makes a number of units worth considering. The smallest, Energi-2, is an 1800 mAh unit that easily fits in just about any pocket. You can get it with a built-in microUSB or Lightning connector, but it also includes a USB port so you can use your own cord (that you can also use to recharge it). If you need more power, the Energi 2K, 3K, 4K and 5K flat-format chargers fit nicely under your phone and provide additional capacity. The 3K+ version also has a built-in Lightning connector for use with your iPhone 5 or 5S.

Tylt Capio and Band:

While we’re doing a round up of cool phone accessories, there are two more Tylt products I’ve been field-testing. The first is the Tylt Capio, a cleverlyj-designed, suction-based holder for the phone in your car. It uses a sticky (in a good way, it doesn’t leave any residue when you pull the phone or mount off) surface to make it easy to quickly mount your phone. I did have to use the included feet to support my phone so that it didn’t bounce off on rough roads, but it was still much easier to place and remove than in my old spring-mounted clamping holder. The Capio also features an integrated NFC tag, which is a lot nicer than the separate one I had taped to my previous mount (having an NFC tag allows you to change settings when the phone is placed in the car).

Band is a simple, but highly visible, “cigarette lighter” adapter. It has one plug-in USB port and one tangle-free “band” with a microUSB port you can use to plug in to a second device.

You can get many of Tylt’s products from Amazon (using the links in the text) or other resellers, but some are only available directly from Tylt.com.