iPod Accessory Reviews: speakers
Editor's rating (1-5):
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Reviewed June 2007 by Jacob Spindel, Chief iPod Correspondent
Pod speaker docks seem like they have reached a point where they can best described not by a paragraph, but rather by a checklist: syncing capability, check; remote control, no check. Rare is the dock feature that can actually make an iPod veteran exclaim, “Whoa! That’s different!” The i.Sound Plasma from DreamGear features a rounded base with powerful speakers for listening to your favorite tunes. On top of that is a plasma globe that puts on an electromagnetic lightshow. Whoa, that’s different.
The base of the i.Sound Plasma is cylindrical in shape, with a diameter of about 9.5 inches and a height of 6.0 inches. The base contains the unit’s four speakers and is also the location of the device’s power and volume buttons, as well as the audio input. A large glass globe attaches to the top of the i.Sound Plasma to provide its signature lightshow, giving the device a total weight of about 4.1 lbs.
DreamGear does include non-electronic stands for you to place your iPod in, but it doesn’t have any actual Docking capability, so it can’t sync, charge, or control an iPod (or any other device). However, this also means that it is equally compatible with all standard audio devices. Overall, I found the audio quality of the i.Sound Plasma to be pleasantly surprising:
Bass: The i.Sound Plasma is a rather large device as far as speaker docks go, which gives it a strong advantage in the bass department. The bass tones of the music types I tested were played strongly and well emphasized. 5.0/5.0
Treble: Considering how strong the bass is, I almost expected the higher tones to be somewhat washed out in comparison, but the device’s treble range is also impressively powerful. 4.5/5.0
Clarity: Although there is really nothing extraordinary about audio clarity from the i.Sound Plasma, it is still more than enough to be able to use it for podcasts and various other types of audio without any of them becoming unusually difficult to understand. 4.0/5.0
Volume: The i.Sound Plasma can be adjusted anywhere from very quiet to VERY loud, so it scores well in terms of sheer volume capability, although I would soon discover that this also has a correlation with one of the device’s biggest flaws. 5.0/5.0
Okay, so we’ve all seen speaker docks before—so what about the lightshow? Unfortunately, this turned out to be a weak point for the device. As I mentioned above, the i.Sound Plasma has the capability to be raised to a very high volume—but if you want to see any real reaction from the plasma globe, this high volume becomes your only option, since quiet and midrange volume settings don’t generate any lightshow at all. It would’ve been nice if the i.Sound Plasma had some sort of adjustable sensitivity level for the plasma globe, since currently, if you live in an environment where loud noise is not appropriate (or you just don’t like loud noise), you are likely to miss out entirely on the device’s most unique selling point.