After Hours

Geek Gifts 2010: Personal Soundtrack Shirt

The Personal Soundtrack Shirt, which was originally an April Fool's joke, comes with 20 pre-programmed sounds - but you can also load your own MP3 files and discreetly play them (and adjust the volume) with a battery-operated, wired remote.

There are thousands of geeky t-shirts available from numerous places on the web, but ThinkGeek has topped them all with a shirt that plays sounds and music through a large speaker on the front. The Personal Soundtrack Shirt, which was originally an April Fool's joke, comes with 20 pre-programmed sounds - but you can also load your own MP3 files and discreetly play them (and adjust the volume) with a battery-operated, wired remote.

Features

  • A speaker on the front plays background music and sound effects at your command
  • The wired remote has 20 buttons for the easy selection of 10 music themes and 10 different sound effects:

Included Musical Themes

Included Sound Effects

Royal Entrance Cheering
Sexy Time Theme Drum Roll
Disco Floor Cat Call Whistle
Silent Movie Chase Theme Laugh Track
True Love Booing
Scary Movie Crying
Spy Mission "Wrong Answer" Buzzer
Super Hero Rescue Rim Shot
Western Showdown Metal Air Guitar
Game Show Police Siren
  • You can easily load your own sound effects and music onto the Personal Soundtrack Shirt using standard MP3 files
  • If you accidentally remove the original MP3s that came on the shirt, simply download the replacement .zip (8 MB), save to your hard drive, unzip the file, and place on the SD card
  • You can also play your iPod or other portable audio player through the speaker on the front of the shirt
  • It requires four AAA batteries, which aren't included
  • All sizes (Adult Small to XXL) cost $29.99

What I like

  • Unique and entertaining: There aren't other shirts like this on the market, and so when you wear (and play) your Personal Soundtrack Shirt, people will definitely notice. And if you have your sounds and timing down, this shirt can be extremely entertaining. I don't think I ran across anyone who didn't smile when they heard it in action - and no, I'm not just surrounded by Pollyanna people.
  • Comfort: The Personal Soundtrack Shirt is a black, 100% cotton t-shirt, and it doesn't get much more comfortable than that. You can clip the main component, which holds the music, onto your pants or belt, and the wired remote is easily stored in an inside pocket on the bottom front of the shirt. It's not cumbersome and doesn't weigh you down with a bunch of equipment or hardware.
  • Flexibility: I'm not referring to the texture of the fabric here. ThinkGeek Labs could have made this shirt with just 20 pre-programmed sounds, and folks still would have bought it. The fact that you can program your own music and sound effects - or even just use the speaker to listen to your iPod or other portable audio player - makes the Personal Soundtrack Shirt more... well... personal.

What I don't like

  • Timing: The main component of the Personal Soundtrack Shirt lists the 20 pre-programmed sounds, and the numbers match up with the wired remote. However, there's a second or two lag between the time you touch the corresponding number and when the sound emits through the speaker on the front of the shirt. For fast talkers like myself, this means you have to press the button before you want the sound to play - that is, if you want it to play at a particular moment (otherwise, it's like making people wait for a punch line in joke... and then it just isn't as funny). Ultimately, it's a timing issue, which requires a learning curve. (To see me experimenting with the Personal Soundtrack Shirt, watch this TR community video from October 2010.)
  • Speaker: It's not the quality of sound that kind of bothers me about the speaker on the front of the Personal Soundtrack Shirt. My complaint is shallower than that. I'm not sure about the whats or hows of speaker technology, but it would be nice if it could be made of softer, more pliable material.

Geek bottom line

It's not ridiculous to spend $30 for a shirt, nor is it uncommon to blow $30 for a night of entertainment. With the Personal Soundtrack Shirt, you can have a t-shirt and many hours/days of entertainment for that one-time low cost (minus the AAA batteries). If you or the geek you're shopping for is between a Small and a XXL, this gift might be the best fit for the holiday season.

Geek Gift Score (out of 5)

  • Fun factor: *****
  • Geek factor: ****
  • Value: *****
  • Overall: *****

Want more reviews of tech gadgets and gizmos? Download the PDF of TechRepublic's Geek Gift Guide 2010.

About

Sonja Thompson started at TechRepublic in October 1999. She is a former Senior Editor at TechRepublic.

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