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Retro Touch Speaker
Score: 89%
Developer: thumbsUp!
Device Type: Audio


After reviewing thumbsUp!'s Touch Mini Boombox Speaker, I was impressed by their wireless sound amplification system, and when the chance came up to review a similar device, but geared more for use as a bedside alarm clock, my interest was piqued yet again.

The Retro Touch Speaker takes the same intriguing technology found in thumbsUp!'s other touch-based speakers, and gives it a retro style, complete with a big dial for controlling the volume (a bit of control the Mini Boombox didn't have).

Without forcing you to pair your device over bluetooth to the speaker or connect any audio cables, the Retro Touch Speaker picks up the sounds that come out of your smartphone's speakers and boosts them to an impressive volume, and as an added bonus, you can even use it as a charging station, though that requires having the speaker plugged in via its USB port.

Also like the Touch Mini Boombox, there is also an 3.5 mm audio jack in case your music player of choice can't get close enough to the Retro Touch Speaker's receiver, though I found I actually didn't have to use the cable this time. Given the thick case on my iPhone, I find that most devices tend to not really fit all that well (including the Mini Boombox), but not so here. Even with the Otterbox Commuter case on my phone, the phone easily rested in the cradle and the audio was still picked up to be amplified.


I found the Retro Touch Speaker does everything it advertises. Not only does it amplify your smartphone's sound like the other Touch speakers, but I found no problems with its ability to charge my iPhone, as long as it's USB cable was plugged into a power supply. On top of that, having the iPhone sit in the device's cradle helps to complete the look of an older style radio, from there it is just a matter of finding a clock app that fits the look you want.

The speaker's output was solid, but how loud the volume goes really does depend a lot on how high you've turned up your smartphone. After all, this device is simply amping up the input it gets; it doesn't have any direct control over the volume coming out of your smartphone itself.

When first looking over the product, I was under the impression that it could also charge your phone off of the three AA batteries, but after a big storm passed through my area and I was left without power for a couple of days, I realized that this was, in fact, not the case. The batteries allow the speakers to be powered and boost your music, but they are not there to charge your phone. It would have been a nice feature to have, but it isn't something that Retro Touch Speaker claims to support, so I can't count this against the product. Similarly, there is no internal rechargeable battery, so without either a USB port for power or AA batteries, the Retro Touch Speaker is dead in the water.

  • Use as a Smartphone Alarm Clock Amplifier
  • Compatible with Most Smartphones
  • USB or Battery Powered (Requires 3 x AA batteries - Not Included)
  • USB Charging Cable Included
  • Connect via USB to Recharge your Phone - Compatible with Most USB Charging Cables
  • Output: 2W / 4 Ω / 1.5 RMS x 2 Speakers

Drawbacks & Problems::

There aren't really that many complaints to lobby against the Retro Touch Speaker. The lack of a built-in rechargeable battery means that you will either have to keep a set of AA's handy or be near a power supply that takes USB ports if you want to keep your device even a little mobile, but that's not really a bit point of contention, just something to be aware of. Interestingly enough, given that the Retro Touch is really just an amp, even if its power dies in the middle of the night, your smartphone's built-in alarm will sound at its normal volume, not the boosted one that comes from the little red and beige device. As long as your smartphone isn't also dead because of the lack of recharging, there shouldn't be much of an issue.

If you are looking for an alarm clock to pair with your phone, but you don't actually want the hassle of bluetooth pairing or worrying about compatibility with your smartphone, then the Retro Touch Speaker could be right up your alley, but of course, the retro style would have to appeal to you.

-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

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