What's hot:Easy to use controls, long battery life.
What's not:Doesn't remember audio settings when turned off and on again.
Review posted November 2009 by Jenifer Shelamer
Bike rides, especially long ones, can be pretty tedious if you’re riding alone and the scenery isn’t new or interesting. It’s often tempting to bring along a music player for some entertainment, but headphones can reduce your awareness of approaching cars or other hazards, and in many states it’s illegal to wear headphones while operating a vehicle. The cy∙fi is a great solution for that situation and any other time you might want a wireless speaker, indoors or out.
The cy∙fi is available in two versions: one uses Bluetooth to connect to stereo A2DP-enabled devices, and the other uses Kleer technology to connect to iPods. I tested the iPod version. The Bluetooth version acts as a speakerphone while the iPod version acts as a speaker.
The cy.fi is a available in 3 color schemes.
The speaker part of the cy∙fi has an on/play/pause button and rubberized volume up/down and forward/backward buttons. All of the buttons are easy to locate and operate without looking at the speaker. They require a deliberate press, so sometimes I have to press twice, but that’s probably better than being too sensitive. It comes with two brackets of different diameters to mount it on a bike. I had a little trouble finding a place to mount it on my road bike because a cable runs along the length of the top tube, and I already have a computer and a heart rate monitor on my handlebars. I ended up connecting it vertically to the headset. This isn’t the best location for getting to the buttons, especially the pause button, which is at the bottom, angled toward the bike frame. A horizontal position would be easier to use. The sound, though, is fine in any position – more on that below.
The other piece is a 1 x 1.5-inch transmitter that connects to the bottom of the iPod. Once the iPod is turned on and this piece is attached, the iPod can be placed in a pocket or any other convenient location. The transmitter and speaker automatically connect wirelessly when the speaker is turned on; the iPod attachment also turns off the speaker when it is disconnected from the iPod. So setup is as easy as turning on the speaker and connecting the iPod attachment; when you’re done, disconnecting the transmitter powers off the speaker.
The sound is adequate for outdoor use: I tested it with both a podcast and with music (and in an excess of geekiness, I used a MiFi with SlingPlayer on the iPod Touch to listen to a football game that was on my TV), and they all sounded fine on the bike. The sound is weighted more toward the treble than the bass, but that’s probably good for clarity outdoors. Indoors the sound is acceptable although far from audiophile quality. I wondered whether the speaker would be loud enough to hear over wind noise and passing cars, but I was able to hear it without even turning it all the way up. The wireless connection between the iPod and the speaker was rock solid and never skipped or faded.
The cy∙fi speaker has a rechargeable battery, and it comes with a desktop charger that holds the speaker upright and has a small footprint. The “cy∙fi” light on the power button glows red when charging, green when charged, and blue when connected to an iPod. The company claims 6 hours of battery life (5.5 hours for the Bluetooth version). It ran over 8 hours in my testing (with the iPod close to the speaker and the volume set low). The speaker is mostly black, with black, silver, or red trim.
The speaker is shock-resistant and water-resistant but not waterproof, so riding in the rain would not be a good idea.
There is a cool feature that I wasn’t able to test: they claim that you can sync with up to three other cy∙fi speakers. So if you’re riding with a friend, you could sync with their cy∙fi so they’re hearing the same music you’re hearing.
The iPod cy∙fi is compatible with all iPods except the Mini, the Shuffle, and the iPhone (the iPhone presumably would work with the Bluetooth cy∙fi). The Bluetooth version is compatible with almost all A2DP devices; if you use it with a cell phone, it can pause the music and be used as a speakerphone for calls.
Pros: Allows you to safely listen to a music player while riding a bike; long battery life; controls are easy to use while riding; weighs less than 4 oz.
Cons: Speaker doesn’t remember the volume setting after turning off and back on; the transmitter uses the iPod connector, so external batteries can’t be used to extend the battery life of the iPod.
In the box:
Transmitter for iPod