First Looks Special: Tivoli iSongBook Portable iPod Music System
We’ve been hoarding most of our newest discoveries for our Holiday 2005 Buyers’ Guide (coming next week), but something arrived today that was too interesting not to show off straight away. Though it hasn’t gone through our rigorous testing yet, Tivoli Audio’s iSongBook ($329) may well wind up becoming the premium iPod speaker buyer’s pick of choice. Put aside the price for a moment, and just take a quick gander at the checklist of features it offers.
First, there’s the Tivoli name, which inspires a lot of passion amongst the audiophile crowd, and the styling, which shares a lot in common with the company’s earlier iPAL speaker for the iPod. You still get the (largely) waterproofed silver and white enclosure, rubberized knobs and port covers, and metal speaker grilles. Well, that last part is one letter inaccurate. With iPAL, you got one speaker grille. With iSongBook, you get two.
There’s not only a second speaker, but Tivoli’s actually made it detachable - a holy grail of sorts for dedicated iPod speaker design. Then, as you’ll notice on the left, there’s an iPod dock - not just any iPod dock, but a true “universal dock,” as Apple has put it, and the first one we’ve seen on a third-party accessory. Tivoli includes seven Dock Adapters (1-7, for those keeping count since our review of the Apple Universal Dock), which is enough to cover every size of iPod from 3G to 4G and mini. iPod nano and 5G owners get Dock Adapters with their iPods.
Tivoli’s dock flips down from iSongBook’s side, and like Apple’s Universal Dock, inserting or removing different-sized Dock Adapters is a snap. If you don’t want the dock down, just fold it back up into the speaker enclosure.
The two speakers are connected to one another through a retractable cable on the right speaker’s back. Winding and unwinding the cable is a manual process - better, in our view, than a cheap spring-loaded mechanism - and provides roughly 6 feet of separation between the right speaker and the iSongBook enclosure. Attaching the speaker to the system relies on metal nubs and rubberized ports, a good choice for a sturdy fit.
A quick study of iSongBook’s rear reveals a large battery compartment, which is sealed with a screw on the unit’s bottom, ports for power and an auxiliary input, and an antenna. A headphone port is on the unit’s left side above the universal dock.
The battery compartment yields only one disappointment by comparison with iPAL, which featured a rechargeable battery: six AA batteries are used to provide power. Truthfully, it’s hard to complain much about this, given that iSongBook actually runs off of batteries, which is more than can be said for certain other speaker systems in its class.
And what can iSongBook do when powered on? There’s a digital AM/FM radio on board, tuned via a backlit LCD screen. Five presets are available for AM and FM, plus an alarm, a sleep timer with a 20-minute countdown, and a digital volume knob that runs from 0 to 30. On the far left center of the system is a dark red circle, which interfaces with the included remote control.
The remote’s more sophisticated than your average, say, Apple Remote. There are full iPod play/pause, track, album, and playlist controls, system volume and mute controls, tuning and preset buttons for the radio, a backlight button, and an off button that works when the iPod’s connected to shut down playback.
Expect our full review soon, but in the meanwhile, here are a few other notes: total system volume is dramatically enhanced by the presence of the second speaker; the system is a lot quieter without the second speaker attached. We very much like the look and feel of the whole system, which has evolved nicely from iPAL (and obviously shares a lot in common with the company’s standard SongBook, as iPAL did with its PAL predecessor). And audio quality? We’re going to have to test more. Because of its thin cabinet, it’s hard to imagine that this will stack up to the rich bass of the cavernous, milk carton-sized PAL, but we’ll see.
- Apple Computer iTV / Apple TV First Look
- First Looks: PocketParty V2, Aural Earbuds, Cases for Apple Remote, nano, 5G
- First Looks: Kensington Dock 500/Radio Duo, Icuiti DV920, Belkin TuneBase FM & More
- First Looks Special: Motorola SLVR L7 iTunes Phone (photos inside)
- First Looks: Altec iM3c, SmartShare, OtterBox 5G, Commuter & Mork Mount
- First Looks: Applesauce, Blinkit, EyeTV 2, iM11, iRhythms & More
- CBS CEO Moonves notes Apple talks have stopped
- Apple will source iPhone 7 ‘A10’ CPU solely from TSMC
- Federal bill aims to take regulatory power for phone encryption out of state hands
- Job post shows Apple emphasizing new complications, faces for Apple Watch
- New comments hint at forthcoming streaming TV service from Apple
- Apple Music available on Sonos starting today
- Screen protector installation now available at Apple Stores
- Russia mulling tax increase on App Store purchases, other Apple services
- Lawyers threaten to sue Apple over ‘Error 53’ codes disabling iPhones
- Apple releases iOS 9.3 beta 3, tvOS 9.2 beta 3, watchOS 2.2 beta 3 to developers
- Vicks SmartTemp Wireless Smartphone Thermometer
- Gumdrop Cases DropTech Case for iPad Pro
- Edifier MP700 Rave Portable Bluetooth Speaker
- Just Mobile HoverDock for Apple Watch + HoverDock for iPhone
- VRS Design Dandy Layered Case for iPad Pro
- Just Mobile TENC for iPad Pro
- Native Union DOCK Lightning
- Native Union DOCK for Apple Watch
- Hitcase Pro+ Action Pack and Snap for iPhone 6/6s
- Urban Armor Gear Trooper for iPhone 6/6s
- Inside the betas: What’s new in iOS 9.3 and tvOS 9.2 (Updated)
- Life with HomeKit: Our experiences with Apple’s home automation system
- Under the Radar: 10 ‘hidden’ details about the new Apple TV
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iOS 9.0
- Under the Radar: A closer look at smaller iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus changes
- A First Look at iOS 9’s Transit in Apple Maps (Updated for watchOS 2)
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iTunes 12.2
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iOS 8.4 + Apple Music
- CE Week 2015: IK Multimedia, Monowear’s Apple Watch bands + More
- Live From CE Week 2015: Brand New iPad, iPhone + Mac Accessories!