Updated January, 2007: On November 1, 2006, iLounge published a capsule review of the Asian version of this product (Ez’ech Music Showcase) in the 2007 iPod Buyers’ Guide, which received our A-, high recommendation based upon both its overall quality and a promised U.S. price point of roughly $150 – appropriate given the speakers’ quality and overall value. As noted when we reposted the capsule review online in November, the Ez’ech Music Showcase is available outside of the U.S – including the U.K. – at this price or less. However, in January, 2007, the product was announced for American release at a higher price of $200, leading us to remove our high recommendation in favor of a B+-level general recommendation in this territory. While the Showcase is still a good and unique iPod speaker offering, it is not as strong a product relative to its competitors at the $199 price point; for readers in Asia, the U.K., and other territories where it is available at the lower price, our prior rating still applies.
Available under at least two brand names, the Atlantic Ego / Ez’ech Music Showcase is the only iPod-ready speaker that can be safely dropped into a pool. Read that again. Made from clear hard plastic, the Music Showcase allows you to hear the music from any iPod 4G, 5G, mini, or nano when you’re in or near water, as an O-ringed, waterproof compartment in the center has sizers for any recent iPod but the shuffle, and provides full interface access via the Click Wheel. Though it’s not meant to be submerged for extended periods, it will float on the water’s surface, survive quick dunks and splashes, and yes, play competitively good-sounding music for the dollar, especially when dry – we were actually impressed by the unit’s performance above water, and even when water’s on the rubber drivers, they become muffled, but don’t stop playing. Carrying straps, a stand, and bag are packed in, while four AA batteries provide 30 hours of power – there’s no wall port.
Simple power and volume controls on the front right side, while inserts for full-sized iPods, minis, and nanos are included. We’ve even tried the Music Showcase in the shower, and found it to be a really cool way to listen to iPod music without fear of damage – it’s a very nicely designed little speaker system with novel functionality.
Purchased at its original price of $150, you’ll be more than satisfied with the Music Showcase’s performance – in sound quality, it roughly compares to $100-120 iPod portable speakers, with the waterproof feature meriting a $30 premium. But as sold through Atlantic in the United States for $199, you’re paying an awful lot for waterproof speakers with this level of sound quality, and will need to seriously consider whether they’re worth a premium over low-end competitors that have been steadily falling in price and improving in performance.
Company and Price
Companies: Sunhing Millennium, Atlantic
Price: $150 (Asia, Elsewhere), $199 (U.S.)
Compatible: iPod 4G, 5G, mini, nano