Once upon a time, I was a king of swag. I collected giveaway T-shirts, hats, bouncy balls, pens, canvas bags, knapsacks, alarm clocks, cheap sunglasses, key chains, and well… you get the point. You name it… I accumulated it.
Then, one day I realized I didn’t need my swag anymore.
(How many T-shirts with random logos did I really want?)
Plus, I think my swag-free evolution may have had something to do with becoming a father. I needed extra space for all of that baby stuff! Do you know how much room a box of diapers can take up?!
(Oooh… diapers. It’s been a while since I’ve thought about them… I much prefer the swag.)
But I digress. The point is… I gave up swag. And I moved on with my life.
But much like a smoker, it can only take a touch of re-exposure to get you back in the game…
Last week, my wife innocently came home with a couple pieces of swag. She plopped one of the items on my desk, because she didn’t know what it was.
(She assumed I would be able to offer some assistance.)
I picked it up…
I couldn’t figure it out either. It was a keychain with a two-inch tall rectangular ‘thing’ that looked like a hollow flashlight. It had a big hole on one end and a tiny hole jammed into a crevice at the other end.
It also sort of looked like a new, futuristic character from the next Lego movie…
Maybe it was a whistle?
I blew into it.
Here’s a photo:
What do you think?
Here’s another angle…
Honestly, I really couldn’t figure it out either…. So I cheated and visited a swag dealer online and simply reviewed their inventory.
At the bottom of the list, I found it…
It’s a “GoodValue Phone Amplifier Keychain.” ($1.99)
It’s supposed to be a power-free speaker for your smartphone. You hook it over the little speaker on the bottom of your smartphone and the tiny cone boosts the sound without using batteries.
(Like an old gramophone operates)
Did it work?
The sound output was a tad louder, but the sound quality felt much thinner.
(Not that pleasing a compromise)
Is it worth $1.99?
(And only $1.49 if you by 5,000 or more!)
What do you expect?! It’s swag!!
The Search for Acoustic Amplification
But my embarrassing reentry into swag got me thinking… It might be nice to own the real deal… a more substantial passive speaker or acoustic amplifier that you could use when you need to boost the sound on your smartphone.
You know…. Sometimes, you’re on a phone call, and suddenly you want a few folks nearby to join in. So you hit the speaker button and everyone gathers about your iPhone like it’s some kind of Polycom SoundStation.
It would great if you could magically pull a tiny device out of your jacket pocket and attach it to your smartphone to give it a little more oomph.
So I started looking around. You’ve got to figure when a product line devolves into swag, there’s got to be the original, more expensive item still out there.
And there was… about four or five years ago. You can still find remnants of them online, but unfortunately I couldn’t find any to fit the larger form of newer iPhones.
There’s the SoundByte iPhone Stand Amplifier – $2.99
But except for its square physique, it seemed to be pretty much the same item as my rectangular swag.
The other analog options out there are bulky, expensive and mostly made out of wood… not something you can easily pop into your pocket.
(Granted… bigger sound ‘horns’ will get you better sound.)
The Koostik Original looks pretty cool. And it fits the larger iPhone 6 series. But it’s a whopping $99 and not at all portable.
The bottom line: I couldn’t find what I was looking for…
So what happened?
Time to Wash Your Mug
I think Bluetooth happened.
Tiny Bluetooth speakers can do the same trick, and their price points have been dropping to the point that one day soon, you may find them as swag too. I guess there’s simply no longer a need for an analog acoustic solution to boost the sound of your smartphone.
That said, with Bluetooth, you’ve always got to make sure your speaker is charged up. A powerless solution seems so effortless…
And don’t forget, if you really need one, you can just pop your smartphone into a wide glass or mug and let the laws of reflective sound take over.
But as clever as that may appear in the moment, you’re not always going to have access to a large mug when the spontaneous call for a ‘gather-round-the-iPhone’ conversation hits you.
Don’t Dismiss Your Swag
It feels somewhat odd to get to the final paragraph of one of my posts without a solution to the problem. And completely frustrating to realize I’m working on a dilemma, which was solved and then mostly abandoned half a decade ago…
There’s really nobody today who makes a nifty, little plastic expanding funnel for say, twenty bucks that you can pop onto your smartphone’s speaker to boost its sound?
If you’re out there, I’m all ears.
For now, my crummy keychain swag will have to do…