i-Ecko Portable Cardboard Stereo Speakers Review

No one has ever mistaken me for an environmentalist, however, I drive a hybrid car; my previous car ran on E85; I replaced most of my light bulbs with CFLs and I sort my trash for recycling.  I do these things, not because it makes me feel good.  I do them because it saves me money.  Hence, when I was offered the opportunity to review the i-Ecko speakers I knew I would use the same approach to this environmentally friendly product.

The folks at i-Ecko are promoting a lifestyle.  They have other products in their eco-friendly line, including USB flash drives and an mp3 player.  All are purported to not cause any harm to the environment.  They’re all made in China.

Features of the speakers from the web site:

  • Made From Recycled Materials and Sustainable Natural Fibers
  • Easily Assembled
  • Compatible with all iPods and MP3 Players
  • Folds Flat For Convenient Storage and Portability

Here’s what the speakers look like after they’re taken out of the box and before they are assembled.   Assembly consists of some folding and then inserting tabs into precut slots in the cardboard.  Patience is required or the tabs can be torn off.  I also found it advantageous to use the back of a spoon to make the folds.  If they’re not crisp, you’ll have problems inserting the tabs.

Here’s what you wind up with.  If you care about the writing on the speakers being in an upright orientation, make sure you route the speaker wire out the correct corner.  It doesn’t route naturally to the right spot.  Being the first time I assembled the speakers it took me about 15 minutes.  Subsequent assemblies took less time which is good, but could be a problem.  Everytime I took it apart and reassembled, the slots in the cardboard became larger.  Over time I might need some type of tape to hold the speakers together.

 

Now for the subjective part.  I hooked up my iPod Touch and cranked the volume to max.  I didn’t hear any distortion nor any bass, but then again the loudness was very low.  I tried playing different tracks from Nickleback to the Fleetwoods and found it hard to hear unless I was no more than 5 feet away.  These things are not powered, so I guess you can’t expect much.  I also got the same results using two Creative players and an RCA player.

To insure I wasn’t being overly critical, I brought the speakers to a family gathering and demonstrated them.  The common complaint was that the volume was very low and several people questioned why you would buy these when you could get better sound out of a cheap set of earphones for the same or less money.

Lastly, the box they came in states the “speakers fold out flat for storage and can be transported with ease”.  I guess that statement depends on your definition of flat.  The above photo shows the smallest I could get the speakers.  They fit very nicely in the box they came in, but they still take up a lot more space than a set of earphones.

I can’t get too excited about the i-Ecko speakers.  Perhaps people who consider the green factor more important than the performance of the speakers would be interested.  Now I have to figure out how to dispose of them.  Do I put them in the paper, plastic or metal recycle bin?

 

Product Information

Price:$11.99
Manufacturer:i-Ecko
Retailer:Amazon.com
Requirements:
  • Sound source
Pros:
  • Cheap
Cons:
  • Fragile, tinny sound
Posted in: Audio, Video, TV Gear, iPhone, iPad, iPod, Reviews

4 comments… add one

  • BJN September 28, 2011, 1:45 pm

    I think that a pair junky speakers that get quickly discarded are the exact opposite of eco design. Brown cardboard and green ink are just greenwash, and if i-Ecko is a “lifestyle”, it’s a lifestyle of style over any real substance.

  • Andrew Baker September 28, 2011, 6:36 pm

    I’ve used same ear-buds for about 4 years now, from a petroleum mass standpoint, they contain, 1/40th the plastic as the plastic rings that link the speaker to the cardboard.

    Just an FYI, a bare speaker without a case is extremely Eco friendly to start with. They are comprised of a metal Alloy, usually aluminum or steal in the frame which is readily recycled, a paper cone that will bio-degrade in a compost heap in a few months at most, a coiled copper wire for the voice coil, (also recycled immediately) and finally a permanent magnet, either neodymium or iron. All very quickly broken down or re-purposed/cycled.

    This product could be made more earth friendly by replacing the plastic mounts with a bamboo composite, or wood (renewable) enclosure.

  • Ian Lim September 28, 2011, 7:18 pm

    Schnieder Electric gave this product ( with branding ) away at their 2010 Summit. Each attendee got one in their “show bag” and there were stacks of them in the display areas. I could see that people were taking up to 6 of them off the displays. When I finally got back and tried them out was glad I wasn’t greedy. What a waste of time, money and materials. When I first tried them on my smartphone I figured something must be wrong. The smartphone inbuilt speaker was HEAPS louder than them. Plugged it onto my Galaxy Tab with the same result.

    The only green thing about them is that they’re stopping noise pollution cause they’re so quiet :)

  • Donald Schoengold November 10, 2011, 6:31 pm

    The speakers on my music system are a pair of AR2A’s (remember them?) that I bought when I was in college about 50 years ago. The ones I have on my computer are a pair of Realist speakers that I bought maybe 20 years ago.

    IMHO, that is more ecological than a pair of throwaway paper speakers.

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