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Speakal iBoo

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What's hot: Cute-- kids love it.

What's not: Not compatible with iPhone.

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Reviewed April 30, 2009 by Jennifer Shelamer

This iPod dock/speaker is all about cute – as soon as I took it out of the box, my 11-year-old daughter tried to claim it as hers. It immediately reminded me of a Pacman ghost, with eyes that function as speakers and a smiley mouth that receives the infrared commands from the remote. A sub-woofer is located on the bottom and aimed downward. A blue light shines from the bottom of the speaker when it is switched on, which can be cool or annoying, depending on whether you want a blue light in the room. The light blinks when the iBoo is placed on standby, which means you probably don’t want to leave it on standby, charging your iPod, while you try to sleep in the same room.

iBoo

The iPod fits in a dock on top of the iBoo’s head, with an assortment of adapters for various-sized devices (it also has a cover for those who won’t use the iPod dock at all). It is listed as being compatible with the iPod Touch, iPod Classic, iPod Nano, iPod 5th gen, iPod 4th gen, and iPod mini. In reality, though, the adapters are not sized for a close fit, and I’m pretty sure that any iPod with a dock connector will work. A 3.5 mm input is provided at the bottom of the unit for compatibility with any device that has a headset jack.

Once the iPod is in the dock, most operations must be done with the included remote control or with the “patented humanized” touch control on the sides and top of the speaker. The remote generally worked well, although it sometimes took a few presses of a button before the speaker recognized the command. I’m not particularly fond of the touch controls because although the blue light blinks when you touch them, the iBoo doesn’t always respond. In my experience, you have to be pretty accurate when you touch the symbols on the surface of the speaker, and without any tactile clues, you really have to look to make sure you’re in the right place.

iBoo

Since the remote uses the iPod dock to control the iPod, it doesn’t work with players that are connected through the 3.5mm jack, except to mute the iBoo and put it on standby.

The iBoo works only on AC power, and it charges the iPod when it is switched on. Nice touches include rubberized feet to keep it from vibrating against a surface while playing music. The power switch is on the bottom of the speaker toward the back, which can be difficult to find without picking up the speaker and looking for it.

Although this is obviously not a high-end speaker, I was generally pleased with the quality of the sound. It handles most musical styles well, but bass-heavy rock music tends to sound a little muddy. It has enough volume to get painfully loud when used in a normal-sized room. The only equalization control is the “Default” button on the remote, which “flattens” the bass and treble with one push, then returns it to the default settings with the next push. There’s not much difference between the two settings.

According to Speakal’s press release, the iBoo is also environmentally friendly: “As [a] GREEN and RoHS product, the iBoo efficiently utilizes minimal energy and is designed using environmentally friendly components and non-hazardous materials.”

If you’re looking for a unique iPod speaker/dock with “personality” and a cheerful smile for less than $100, the iBoo is a great choice. My daughter and I both give it thumbs up.

 

 

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In the box:
iBoo speaker
AC Power cord
Remote control with battery
Adapters for the iPod dock
Cable to connect players to the 3.5mm jack

Price: $89.99

Web Site: www.speakal.com

Comparison Shopping: Where to Buy

Specs:

Specifications:
Amplifier output power: left/right 3W x 2, subwoofer 9W x 1
Amplifier input sensitivity: ≤ 400mV
Amplifier SNR: ≥ 82dB
Amplifier distortion: ≤ 0.7%
Frequency response: 100Hz ~ 20KHz
Speaker units: tweeter Φ31mm, subwoofer 88x88mm
Power voltage: AC 100-240V, 50/60Hz
Dimensions: W160xD160xH143mm
Weight: 1.07kg
Colors: Red, blue, or white
MSRP: $89.99, with a 1-year warranty

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