So small is the X-mini that you may wonder how it can possibly produce audio of any power or depth, but this is where its piece de resistance comes in.
Twist the speaker anti-clockwise about its middle and it pops open to reveal a concertina of rubbery plastic that extends the total height of the speaker to around 57mm. Not exactly goliath but large enough that bass is given a bit of room to reverberate.
And it works too. The speaker will work both unextended and with lid closed but sounds weak and muffled. Open the lid and the speaker leaps into life, though, providing a noticeable boost in volume over most phones, tablets and small laptops. Open up the concertina and a bassy rumble is added to proceedings. It cannot compete with larger, more expensive units, and if you've a device with reasonable audio the step up may seem too small to be worthwhile, but there are plenty of portable devices that will be greatly enhanced by the audio on offer here.
We tested with an iPhone 4S, Samsung Galaxy S and 13in Asus ZenBook and found that while the iPhone and Zenbook could match or out do the X-mini for volume (respectively) both lacked its beefier sound. However the Zenbook did arguably sound better with its stereo speakers, especially when watching video. As for the Galaxy S, though, the X-mini provided a significant boost in volume and depth, clearly making it a worthwhile upgrade.
Battery life is a reasonable (considering its size) 6 hours, though it does take a couple of hours to charge, which seems a bit excessive. For £11, and for something you can just chuck in the bottom of your bag, you can't really ask for too much more, though.
That said, the X-mini II, with its larger 40mm driver and 12 hour battery life is only a slightly larger unit overall and costs the same, so might be a better bet – we'll be sure to get one in soon to find out.
The X-mini v1.1 is almost everything you could want from a portable speaker. It's absolutely tiny, quite well-built, has both an audio socket and an integrated audio cable and provides a boost in audio oomph over the speakers in many phones, tablets and small laptops. And at £11, it's almost an impulse buy. However, it doesn't quite have the power to necessarily be worth bothering with if your device's speaker isn't too bad, especially as you lose the stereo of laptop speakers.