Review: Sonic Impact i-F2 Portable Speakers with Enhanced Audio and Remote
As Sonic Impact's new i-F2 ($150) portable speaker system is based almost entirely upon its earlier i-Fusion (iLounge rating: B+), we've opted not to do a full re-review of the new speaker - instead, we're publishing this short capsule review to fill you in on the differences between the models. In short, i-F2 improves upon its mid-2005 predecessor, but competing offerings have advanced substantially on pricing and features during the same time period, and so the new model is as good of a product today as i-Fusion was back then.
i-F2 preserves the earlier portable speaker’s zipper-and-fold-shut black ballistic nylon case design, but promised to improve slightly upon its audio quality and include a new six-button remote control. Unlike the white interiored i-Fusion, i-F2 is jet black inside with chrome accents, and uses one of its two pop-open compartments to hold both the new remote and a rechargeable integrated battery pack. The other compartment can hold an iPod while you’re on the go. Multiple dock spacers are used for various models of iPods - versions from 3G to 5G, nano and mini are included - while the included power adapter can be switched from U.S.-standard to two other travel-ready international wall blades. Three ports inside a rubber-sealed compartment provide audio-in, Dock Connector synchronization, and power-in access.
After spending a couple of weeks playing with i-F2 indoors and outdoors, our feelings were mixed, but generally positive. The unit’s new remote is amongst the better Infrareds we’ve tested, working reliably from 20-foot distances and within a roughly 30-degree angle from the front of the system, and though its audio hasn’t changed dramatically from the last unit’s, we found it clean and more than acceptable for portable listening in any environment. We still prefer the sound of Logitech’s same-priced mm50 (iLounge rating: A-), which uses larger speaker drivers to produce larger, smoother, and slightly less mechanical-sounding audio, but i-F2’s 15-hour battery pack and all-in-one zippered case/speaker design remain very compelling as alternatives. Our advice would be to make a single, simple choice when trying to decide between these options: if you’re audio-quality obsessed, a factor we tend to consider of premium importance with any speaker system, go with mm50. If not, i-F2 is close (and good-sounding) enough that its other features make up for the difference in sound.