iPod Hi-Fi

iPod Hi-Fi

The Hi-Fi looks cool without its black-mesh covering.


If you want a good-sounding iPod speaker system, you can spend as little as $149.99 for the Logitech mm50 (www.logitech.com) or as much as $399.99 for the Klipsch iFi (www.klipsch.com). The iPod Hi-Fi nestles into the upper end of that range at $349. Its sound quality goes a long way toward justifying its price tag, but we can't help wishing for more from the company that invented the iPod itself.


In our testing, the Hi-Fi sounded best on pop music with a vocal bent; it delivered a warmth and presence that suited the intimacy of the vocals. The same held true for classical guitar and string quartets. On the latter, the Hi-Fi's impressive bass - for its size - provided a satisfying bottom end. The bass gave juuust enough boom to our rap selections that we thought about wiring the Hi-Fi into the trunk of our car.


Performance was nice enough, if less impressive, when it came to other musical styles. The staccato horns and pizzicato strings in orchestral works, for example, were more crisply reproduced by the Klipsch iGroove ($279.99) we had set up next to the Hi-Fi. And despite Apple's marketing hype to the contrary, there's no way the Hi-Fi can replace a decent home stereo - size and separation do matter, and both Frank Zappa and Franz Liszt suffer when crammed into a 6.6-by-17-by-6.9-inch box.


We're disappointed with the Hi-Fi's iPod integration. The Hi-Fi comes with an Apple Remote, but it only controls playback and volume - you can't use it to navigate the iPod's menus. There's also no video-out port and no way to connect the Hi-Fi to your Mac for sync.


The bottom line. The Hi-Fi's sound quality is good enough to earn it our Great rating, but we can't help thinking about how Awesome it could be with either a lower price or some innovative iPod-oriented features.


CONTACT: 800-692-7753 or 408-996-1010, www.apple.com
PRICE: $349
Sounds good for its size. No power brick.
Pricey. No extra features or functions.





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