Company: Griffin Technology
Compatible: iPod 4G, 5G, mini, nano
Griffin iKaraoke Karaoke for Your iPod
[Editors' Note: On November 1, 2006, iLounge published The 2007 iPod Buyers' Guide, with more than 30 brand new, capsule-sized product reviews - only for products we considered to be amongst the very best we've seen throughout the year. The short review below is excerpted from the Guide, which you can download here.]
If you understand the concept of karaoke - generally embarassing, but fun public singalongs to famous songs - Griffin’s new iKaraoke will make sense to you. At first blush, you’ll notice that the microphone and automatic on-screen iPod software are unique in that they work with any track already on your iPod, and instead of requiring you to use a line-out port, iKaraoke has a built-in FM transmitter that lets you sing through any nearby FM radio, all cool features that merited our 2006 Accessory Innovation of the Year award. The good news is that these features all work, and provide a less expensive overall experience than competing options; Griffin’s vocal filters remove as much of the original song’s voice track as possible, and enhance yours with echo as much as you want. But don’t expect perfect voice filtering - some tracks won’t work well - and you’ll need to add lyrics to songs on your own. For the price, it’s a good start, and a cool little gadget.
Additional notes: Two of the most impressive things about iKaraoke are its compactness and industrial design - besides the fact that it transforms the microphone, echo effect, audio output and vocal screener hardware into a single package you can take anywhere, it has a nice silver metallic finish, and red glowing light that lets you know when it’s powered on for singing.
If you’re looking for a better audio signal, you can connect a standard minijack-style audio cable (not included) to the Dock Connector and hear your music through a wired connection. iKaraoke’s on-iPod menu system includes reverb, FM station tuning, and music level settings, and its microphone has three buttons (play/pause, track backward, track forward) plus a Vocals switch. Turn Vocals off to try and screen out the vocals from your music; leave it on and vocals will accompany you as you sing. In our testing, iKaraoke’s FM transmission wasn’t as clear as it could have been - a factor weighing on our rating, but one Griffin claims will be remedied in later product updates - and we think that more sophisticated voice filtering tricks and lyric-adding software would be needed to fully execute on the device’s promise. Our standard-level recommendation recognizes the unit’s good performance for a reasonable price, but leaves room for what we hope will be future improvement.