Occasionally we're offered something for review that's so bizarre we just have to try it to see if it works at all.

Frankly, when we were told that this ridiculously-named gadget turns any flat surface into a loudspeaker we didn't have very high hopes, expecting at best sound like a bad transistor radio and limited output.

The device itself didn't bode too well either, being just a cube, quite heavy, a couple of inches each way, with a rubber base and a 'lump in a lead' power supply, which feeds the unit's internal 20-watt 'digital' amplifier.

Input is via a supplied lead terminated in a 3.5mm stereo jack (expected to plug into some portable audio source, of course) and you even get a tiny remote control.

Imagine our surprise when the very first application we tried, with the Vibro Max on a thick pinewood table, resulted in sound, which while admittedly hardly hi-fi, was nevertheless perfectly listenable.

The biggest limitation is indeed output level and you'll hardly bust an ear-drum in a room of any size. In addition, the device is mono only (stereo gets mixed down) but for background music, you could do a lot worse.

Highly resonant flat surfaces are a big no-no, predictably, but most kinds of table seemed to serve well. There's even some room for tweaking, by selecting the optimum position on the table, but basically the sound is pretty decent and for fun factor and raised eyebrows this is a hard gadget to beat.