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“’80s coke dealer.” That’s how one Mac|Life staffer libeled the Rotaliana Diva when trying to describe its visual statement. True enough, this multitalented iPod dock--brazenly slick and swoopy, unapologetic in its design flamboyance--does look like the kind of thing that Tony “Scarface” Montana might place on an end table in his Miami mansion. Are the Diva’s lines too over the top? That’s for you to decide. What we can tell you is that a host of interesting features make this ostentatious obelisk a compelling bundle of functionality.
A slide-out cradle reveals a 30-pin Dock connector for iPod and iPhone playback. Four 3-watt speakers ringing the base provide 360-degree audio. Given the Diva’s small size, its sheer volume is impressive, and the speakers exhibit only the slightest bit of distortion when pushed to their maximum setting. Bass response, however, is anemic, and doesn’t improve when corner-loading the device. So if you want to party on the dance floor with booty-shaking bass, this is not the dock you’re looking for. But if you just want to complement your next cocktail party with a little Sérgio Mendes, the Diva can oblige.
In fact, the Diva excels in other “civilized” activities. The sturdy, diecast aluminum chassis hides a swing-out arm with an integrated LED lamp. Place the Diva couch- or bed-side, and you have plenty of light for reading. The device also sports an FM tuner--perfect for listening to NPR if you don’t want to mess with one of the public radio apps or are using an iPod that doesn’t sport an FM tuner. The Diva also comes with a USB port, so if you plug in a USB flash drive loaded with MP3 or WMA files, those tracks can be easily navigated, played, and paused with the Diva’s IR remote.
The remote’s signal remained strong at more than 40 feet, and we found its interface to be surprisingly intuitive for navigating all of the Diva’s various functions. There are also stereo mini-jacks for plugging in an auxiliary sound source and speakers. However, the red LED display shows the time in 24-hour “military” time, which can take some getting used to. And Diva can charge your iPod or iPhone, but it has to be turned on first in order to charge your devices.
The hefty price tag doesn't deliver amazing music playback, but you do get solid build quality, a bright reading lamp, a clever variety of audio-source options, and a design statement that provokes conversation.
COMPANY: Rotaliana Diva
PRICE: $490 (converted from 360 euros at press time)
REQUIREMENTS: iPod with Dock connector or iPhone
Plentiful playback options. Integrated lamp. Sturdy build quality. Bold design statement.
Gutless bass response. Only displays "military" time. Must be powered on to charge iPods. Expensive. Bold design statement.