iPod Hi-Fi: Integrating Speakers with the iPod

By Graham K. Rogers

The iPod is not simply a device, it is the focal point of a phenomenon. There are lookalike would-be's, there have been attempts to steal the market, but the iPod is greater than the sum of its parts.

Few devices (apart from the motor car) in the couple of years of existence have spawned an industry devoted to parts to add to it, colour it, conceal it, or get data into or out of it. Apple has joined the party, particularly since the advent of the iPod shuffle. Apple's latest device is the iPod Hi-Fi , unkindly called, by some, the "Boombox" or even "Ghetto Blaster".

I had one dropped off at my house for a week and I was able to play with it, along with a 2G iPod nano (to make sure I had a compatible device): I am still running my venerable third generation iPod.

iPod HiFi - front iPod HiFi - rear

The Hi-Fi comes with a remote control and eight dock adapters: for the different types of iPods. For iPods not included, it is possible either to buy adapters or to use an additional cable adapter. With a gentle approach, it is possible to use no adapter and just slide the iPod onto the connector. An adapter is intended to give a sturdy connection. Without such, sooner or later something expensive might be broken off.

iPod dock adapters iPod nano dock adapter

The remote, which is the same as is used with the iMac and MacBookPro, makes volume control and tune selection easy; except that at the distances I ran it from, it was impossible to read the iPod screen: know thy playlists.

nano The iPod nano comes now with a soft, rubberised skin to protect it. This is removed to use the iPod with the dock adapter. This nano had not been updated to take advantage of the Hi-Fi, so I did this and was then able to make changes to speaker output. While using an iPod with the Hi-Fi, the iPod is automatically charged.

While updating it, I took the opportunity to include a selection of photographs from my iPhoto library. I was pleased with the clarity of the display on even this small screen. Were I to have one of these, I would certainly buy an attachment to link to a television.

I am no stereo buff and as long as something clear is coming out of the headphones or speakers, I am content. Not that I am prepared to listen to the bass-laden rubbish that often takes the place of sound systems.

What was odd here was that the sound seemed to become better the further away from the Hi-Fi I was. My lounge is L-shaped. With the Hi-Fi in the foot of the L, I was able to hear good quality sound round the corner at a fairly reasonable volume; and the Hi-Fi can put out sound that approaches the anti-social, although not at the level of car stereos on Uthyayan Road.

It was, however, unusual for a Thai friend to have to tell me to turn down the volume because of the neighbours. I was only trying it out it, but that is testimony as to its ability to fill the rooms with sound.

I found the box useful for more than the simple reason of plugging in an iPod and having wall to wall music. With the input port at the rear, I linked a cable from the TV and had good levels of sound from that medium. Some may think that this is a dubious pleasure, but not everyone watches the best efforts of local TV companies or regurgitated output of UBC/True. There are DVDs and some of these really benefit from external speakers: almost anything is better than standard television speakers.

In some cases before, I had connected my Creature Speakers: power brick, woofer, two tweeters and a veritable spaghetti of wires. With the Apple iPod Hi-Fi, it is one cable to link the TV and one for the domestic power source, which we could omit if we were running on the batteries (not provided).

iPod HiFi in the garden

Batteries mean that the device is not restricted in use to a home or office environment; it can be used in a garden for example. The battery compartment opens with the twist of a coin and holds six "D" size batteries.

The cable provided is unusually long. Apple is normally skimpy on cables, but the one provided allowed me latitude in placing the device. Its design would not suit all tastes. The smooth white body with its rounded edges and black speaker cover (removable to show the speakers) may need a minimalist environment to fit in best.

iPod HiFi in the house

Apple's web site gives the size as 167.6 x 431.8 x 175.3mm and its weight (as tested as 6.6Kg.). The official price in Thailand is 19,000 baht. The handsome device is convenient and totally integrated for iPod use.

Made on Mac

For further information, e-mail to Graham K. Rogers.

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