iPod Accessory Reviews: speakers
i.Sound and i.Sound 4X Speakers
Editor's rating (1-5):
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Review posted May, 2006 by Jacob Spindel, Chief iPod Correspondent
I'd Like to Buy a Vowel
Lately, it seems like any electronics product whose name starts with an "i" automatically has its coolness factor increased by at least 15% over a comparable product whose name doesn't.
This appears to be a major marketing point for the i.Sound and i.Sound 4X by DreamGear, which is why it seems a bit "iRonic" that they are probably best-suited for non-iPod devices.
DreamGear: It's Not a Game Gear Emulator for DreamCast
The i.Sound is an almost cylindrically shaped compact product, and it is only about six inches long when collapsed. A 32 mm, 3W speaker pulls out of each end to provide stereo sound when in use, and although the speakers are magnetically shielded, they do not appear to have any physical protection or "grille," meaning that you could easily touch the speakers' internals with your fingers, even by accident. Although I did not experience any problems during testing, this seems like it could compromise the device's durability significantly.
At the top of the i.Sound, there is a "control panel"-type area with a power button, a virtual 3-D surround sound effect button, a bass button, and a volume dial. I liked that it came with an AC adaptor and a carrying case. I wasn't as thrilled when I saw that, although a battery attachment is included, it requires four AA batteries and has no built-in power storage or charging ability.
Setting up the i.Sound is quite simple—just plug the included standard 3.5mm cable into any standard audio output, and plug the other end of the cable into the upper "control" area of the i.Sound. The AC adaptor plugs into the other side of the control area.
Meanwhile, the i.Sound 4X features four speakers instead of two. In the center, it features an open space that resembles the iPod bay in higher-end speaker devices, and this space is surrounded by two plastic panels, each containing two speakers that resemble those of the original i.Sound but are slightly larger. The plastic panels can be folded inward for travel, and in its collapsed state, its width is roughly two inches less than that of the original i.Sound, although it is about an inch taller. Like the original i.Sound, all of its speakers are unprotected physically and do not have grilles.
Although the battery case of the i.Sound 4X is built-in, rather than being a detachable add-on like the i.Sound's, the 4X's still requires 6 AA's for portability rather than having any built-in battery system. If you plan to use batteries frequently, these devices could have a higher long-term cost than you may have expected.
The i.Sound 4X also includes an AC adaptor, although it is oddly not interchangeable with the one used by the i.Sound. It has an On/Off slider switch, but it does not have any other controls (like the volume dial and bass control on the original i.Sound).