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Cooler Sound CaseSound Case Makes Tunes Cooler

By Jim Bray

In this age of iPods and MP3 players, the old fashioned boom box may have its life flashing before its eyes.

After all, why have a great big portable stereo when you can carry all your tunes in your pocket or purse?

One argument in support of the boom box is that it's self contained and therefore is ideal for taking your tunes to the beach or to a picnic. But if you use an MP3 player, that could mean burning your digital music files to a CD or (YIKES!) a cassette to make your portable music compatible with your boom box.

Wouldn't it be nice if you could just use your MP3 player?

Well you can, of course, through a variety of MP3 player peripherals including external speakers you can pack around with you. But what if you could forget about hauling speakers around with you altogether?

That's the idea behind Sakar International's Cooler Sound Case, which blends refreshment and music in an outrageously creative way.

Gotta love the entrepreneurial spirit!



The Cooler Sound Case is a real, live picnic or beach cooler that'll keep your food and drink cool for hours, but that isn't where it ends. It also adds a decidedly technological twist designed to bail out all those millions of people who like to picnic or tailgate, but who don't have a boom box to inflict their favorite tunes onto unsuspecting - and possibly unappreciative - neighbors.

What Sakar has done is include a pair of two inch, powered speakers (though there isn't a lot of power to them) on the outside surface of the cooler, along with a little pocket into which you can put an MP3 player and a little connector that hooks it into the speakers. So in one swell foop you've converted the bright blue or white box from a garden variety and low tech party cooler to, well, a garden variety low tech party cooler and music inflicter.

New Jersey's Sakar claims to have revolutionized the way you listen to music with this device. I don't know about that, but it's certainly convenient.

But as one might expect it also does not approach technological or musical perfection. For one thing, the powered speakers are small and relatively tinny and the power only comes from a little 9 volt battery that mounts on the unit's side. This means the Cooler Sound Case is definitely not going to raise the Grateful Dead by any means.

On the other hand, that may not be a bad thing, as anyone whose ears have been assaulted by other peoples' crummy music in the great outdoors may attest.

But it works, and it works as advertised as long as you aren't looking for audiophile quality. I took one of them on a picnic and it did, indeed, keep our food and drink as cool as we wanted, provided of course that you bring one of those freezie pack things along with you to put inside the cooler with your munchies.

Since I'm one of the three people on earth who still doesn't have an MP3 player, I borrowed a friend's portable minidisk player to check out the tunes. Alas, his minidisk player was too big to fit in the Cooler Sound Case's pocket, though to be fair my son's MP3 player fit it just fine - and didn't I wish I'd taken it along with me instead of the minidisk player!

But call me a snob if you will; I'd rather do without music than listen to those cheap little speakers, and I think if music were that important to me in the great outdoors, I'd invest in a real boom box or a good set of external speakers.

The Cooler Sound Case measures 14 by 10 by 10 inches, so it's smaller than many coolers but large enough to work well for a variety of outdoor activities where you aren't going to feed the whole neighborhood. Sakar says the Sound Case is waterproof; the MP3 player and the 9 volt battery are protected, too, though I wouldn't want to risk injuring the player by getting it too wet - so it's advisable to be careful with aquatic hijinks nearby.

Okay, the $49 US Cooler Sound Case is hardly the be-all and end-all when it comes to portable food and entertainment, but it's a pretty cool idea that does work as advertised, as long as you don't expect premium high fidelity.

Which only helps show that, if nothing else, the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well and making beautiful music.

Well, music, anyway.

Jim Bray's columns are available from the TechnoFile syndicate.

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Updated May 13, 2006