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.
Speakers? Nope. These are monitors. M-Audio's StudioPro 3 may look like a nice set of powered speakers, but technically, it's a pair of monitors. What's the difference between speakers and monitors? Monitors attempt to reproduce the originally recorded sound as closely and realistically as possible, a necessity in studios. The sound that emanates from these self-powered monitors is squeaky clean: singing highs, emphatic mids, and punchy bass. Turning on the bass boost adds a significant amount of boom, though probably not enough to please bass freaks-but total thump isn't what these monitors are about.
FM, fine - but forget about ball games. The tiny iPod Radio Remote adds FM reception to your iPod nano or video-capable iPod. Bundled with standard earbuds attached to a shorter cable, the remote clips to your shirt, pocket, or whatever. When you plug the remote into your iPod's docking port, a Radio item appears in the 'Pod's main menu; select it, and the FM-tuning screen appears. It's a snap to select stations using the Click Wheel or mark favorite stations and jump to them with the forward and back buttons on either the iPod or the remote (which can also be used to control your iPod). Unfortunately, although reception is excellent when tuned to strong stations, weaker stations drift in and out.
Quality earphones are pricey, but they sound oh so good. It's easy to get a snug fit with XtremeMac's FS1 High Definition Earphones, as they come with three different earpieces: cone-shaped silicone sleeves, foam sleeves that feel a lot like foam earplugs, and flanged tips. That tight fit helps block outside noise so you can better enjoy the FS1's great sound quality.