The speaker on the iPad is decent. The speaker on the iPad 2 is slightly better. But for someone who has autism and relies upon the iPad as an augmentative and alternative communication device, something louder is often needed. Enter RJ Cooper's Tablet (iPad) Speaker.
Roughly the size of an iPhone, RJ's iPad speaker is Bluetooth enabled so it can be used wirelessly. And that's exactly how you want it to be! During my trials I had absolutely no problem with the speaker. It works great! Pairing the speaker with my son's iPad was easy as pie and it began working right off the bat.
At the time of this review RJ Cooper's Tablet Speaker for iPad 2 is a Motorola MotoROKR EQ5. It can connect with MP3 players, PCs or mobile phones and offers integrated controls to switch between music and phone calls at the touch of a button. Phone calls? Uh, you won't be getting calls on your iPad. But my point is that this speaker is versatile. It's not expressly made for your iPad or the special needs population, though it performs quite well when it comes to amplifying a voice. Sound quality is good for this kind of speaker, and it surely beats the iPad's own internal speaker by miles.
The EQ5 is rechargeable. It comes with an A/C adapter that charges the built-in (and non-replaceable) battery and offers stereo surround sound and an integrated kickstand. That means you can stand it up. It also means you could play music through it, but the music quality could be better. Who cares, right? After all, the special needs community doesn't like music! Haha! :-) OK, that's my humor. Yes, you could play music through the EQ5 but the quality is so-so.
My autistic son, Braden, is 9 and he doesn't use his iPad as an augmentative and alternative communication device. So how do we use RJ's speaker? We use it in a couple different ways.
First, my son won't get out of bed unless we tell him to get out of bed. He'll just stay there until he hears us. So we've placed RJ's speaker in Braden's bedroom on his dresser. By using an app called TapSpeak Button we can touch a button and our voice comes out of that speaker saying, "Braden, you can get up!" The goal is to eventually fade this prompt for him to get up so he'll realize that he can get up on his own. After he gets used to hearing our recorded voice telling him to get up, we will record him saying to get up. Over time he will hopefully get the idea that he can get up without hearing my voice or Mom's voice.
We also use RJ's speaker with a White Noise app to keep Braden sleeping at night. The white noise provides a nice barrier so we don't accidentally wake him in the morning too!
RJ Cooper ships the iPad Speaker with a good, strong strip of Super Velcro in case you'd like to attached it to the back of an iPad (or anything else for that matter). The Super Velcro keeps the speaker attached securely.
RJ Cooper and Associates, Inc are selling this Tablet Speaker for the iPad 2 for $99. I searched the internet to see if I could find it cheaper, but RJ's price point is competitive except for AbleNet who is selling it for $30 less. When I thought I found it cheaper elsewhere, it wasn't in stock. You may be able to get it on eBay or Amazon from a reseller, but RJ has nearly three decades of experience and knowledge of people with disabilities. In my opinion, buying it from RJ Cooper adds value because of his vast experience and intimate knowledge of the disability community. He understands his users. But you should know that you have the option of buying the MotoROKR EQ5 elsewhere.
One minor annoyance is the bright LED light on the front of the speaker. It likes to blink and it shines very brightly. I could do without that light. And as you make the volume of the iPad louder, the light gets brighter. I doubled and tripled over some electrical tape and covered the light - it annoyed me that much. Tape to the rescue!
You can find the user manual for the MotoROKR EQ5 in PDF format right here if you're interested in reading more details.
RJ Cooper's Bluetooth Speaker has come in very handy for my family! And I think my son would vouch for that.
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