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 has worked for TechRepublic since October of 1999. She is currently a Senior Editor and the host of the Smartphones and Tablets blogs.

7 comments
stephanisat_z
stephanisat_z

Now I know what I'm getting my husband for Christmas.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

First of all I concur, the speaker is hideous, and that's me being rather polite. Pliable, is actually the issue that speaker manufacturers have to purposely avoid. Simply put, a speaker is an air pump, that's all. It works like a piston to drive sound waves, this is why small speakers and headphones have no bass, unless very high end, they just don't move enough air, slow enough to create bass frequencies. That said, speaker manufacturers strive to create the firmest materials, but still light enough to be sensitive to slight input variations. That's why they moved from using paper speaker cones to the more common polypropylene cones. Poly pro holds it's shape better when driven forward and pushing air, paper will warp more and go out of round as it travels, causing distortion and muddied sound. Most of the best, high-end speakers around use spun aluminum cones, it's lighter and MUCH firmer, offering much cleaner, crisper sound and accuracy. There are many companies that use polypro cones and simply spray them silver to APPEAR to be aluminum nowadays though, making the cone heavier and still not any firmer. To really get into it, aluminum cones often suffer from 'ring' where the tone rolls off. As a result, manufacturers now coat the back of the cone with a spray to deaden the ring and they lower the crossover frequency to avoid it hitting such limits to begin with. A speaker NEEDS a magnet to draw the voice coil back into it, ready to push the next sound out. Between the need for a rigid material AND a magnet behind it, flexibility is not an option. Making a softer, more pliable material would go against all the principles of sound and speaker design. Mind you, that speaker is absolute garbage anyway, but perhaps it will suit the music quality and deaf ears that appreciate a compressed MP3 all the same (ZINGER!!!!) There are flat, line array, speakers that install almost flat but very expensive. They also wouldn't offer any bass response in such an application either. Sorry, but SOMEBODY may find it interesting. ;)

inbox.com
inbox.com

so, how do you wash it when you spill beer on it?

Ed Woychowsky
Ed Woychowsky

It's too bad that I promised not to wear clothes that embarrass my family. Bummer.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

Oh, come on! It wasn't that bad! It was actually pretty good!

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

You spill beer and WASH it off? Don't have a tonque? Sorry but that's just blatant alcohol abuse.