Rolling into view this week comes Oregon Scientific’s innovative iBall – a wireless audio system for your iPod.
Aimed at owners of the whitest must-have item since sliced bread, the iBall is a fine proposition – in theory. You get a receiver with built-in speakers, plus a docking station/wireless transmitter. That’s right, this funky-looking system operates without wires. Simply plug your iPod into the dock, and tunes fire across to the speaker unit located up to 30m away.
The receiver uses six C-cell batteries that are good for around six hours of wireless use. You can also power it via the mains. Control buttons on the speaker ball and a basic, backlit display allow you to control your iPod without getting up.
The chunky dock comes with a selection of different iPod adapters, while one for a Shuffle costs extra. Cradles for the new iPod video and nano will be available shortly.
Connection-wise, the dock has auxiliary input and output, plus an iPod socket for hooking up to your computer’s iTunes. There’s even an S-Video output for your television.
If only the performance wasn’t so weak. Music sounds muddled and insubstantial: the Jackson 5’s ABC is a mish-mash of vocals and instruments, with little separation or clarity. Bass has been pumped up to compensate for the lack of detail.
The iBall is a fine concept, and the wireless feature works very well, but for $429 you can get a speaker system that kicks this into touch.
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Oregon Scientific iBall | $429| |www.oregonscientific.com
For: Looks great; wireless feature works well; good connectivity
Against: Sounds very poor for a $430 system
Verdict: The wireless feature is a neat touch, but its core function – sounding good – just isn’t there.