There are lots of speaker add-ons for the iPod, and they tend to fall into one of two categories: great but expensive goodies such as the Bose SoundDock, and rubbish external speakers you’d expect to find on a cheap PC. The i-Station doesn’t fall into either category, and while it’s definitely got some bad points it’s still rather nifty. I bought one the other day, so here’s a quick review.
The good points:
* It’s a lot louder than you’d expect, and the sound quality is very good
* It’s a 2.1 system, and its little subwoofer is surprisingly effective
* If you run it on AC power, it charges your iPod
* It comes with various adapters so you can use it with any dock-compatible iPod, Mini or Photo
* It runs on AA batteries
* The power brick comes with both UK and EU plugs
* It’s very small
* It’s reasonably cheap
* It doubles as an iPod dock and includes FireWire and USB cables
* The back of the unit doubles as a protective case for travelling
* It works with anything thanks to the (included) line-in cable
* It’s better than broadcasting to your stereo with an iTrip (and legal!)
And the bad:
* You have to shove the iPod onto the connector with some force, and the iPod wobbles when it’s sitting there.
* There aren’t grilles on the speakers, so it’s easily damaged
* It’s pretty ugly
* It’d be nice if there were forward and back buttons in addition to the volume controls
* The 3D button attempts to make the sound “wider” but often introduces distortion
* Sound quality depends on well-encoded MP3 files
The i-Station is currently £49 from Amazon or £59 in the high street.