Give your iPod a battery boost. Three thousand, nine hundred and eighty. That’s the number of times we played Guided by Voices’ 1-minute song “The Perfect Life” consecutively on a fully charged 7-month-old 80GB 5G iPod at its default settings with a NuPower Video+ iPod battery pack attached. (The song is actually 59 seconds, so we added 1 second of silence to make it a little easier to calculate the NuPower’s, uh, power.) That many minutes add up to 66.33 hours—compared to the 19 hours you can get from just your iPod’s battery. Using it for video playback, we got 22.17 consecutive hours. We also tested it while playing music on shuffle, and got similar results. Oddly, Newer Technology claims you’ll get 80 hours of audio (which we fell short on) and only 16 hours of video. Regardless, that’s a whole lot of iPod-ing going on.
Decent looks, decent sound, decent connectivity - but, unfortunately, "decent" doesn't mean "great." With a name like Tango, you might expect dramatic, luscious sound quality from this iPod speaker. What we got from the Tango, however, was a mixed bag of audio results. The Tango has a pair of 2.5-inch midrange speakers, two 1-inch tweeters, and a 4-inch woofer at the bottom of the unit that faces down toward the surface that the speaker sits on. As you'd expect from a speaker with a sizable woofer, the bass from the Tango booms—but with cringe-inducing distortion, even after we turned down the bass. On rock tracks where the bass wasn't as prominent, the Tango did a decent job with midrange sounds, but opera songs lacked clarity.
The m100 earbuds are good for music. We like the m250 over-ear clip-ons for games. Music producers routinely sit around and bemoan the fact that as a result of the 44.1kHz sampling rate of CDs—and the rise of iPods and earbuds—a producer's efforts are wasted on sonically inept listeners. While this is not nearly as true as they'd like to believe, there are complicating factors: The places where we listen, and how and what we listen to, change almost from song to song, leaving manufacturers scrambling to be as many things to as many people as possible. Which brings us to the Pro|Tone m100 earbuds and the Pro|Tone m250 headphones, Razer's two lower-end offerings.
A good beginner’s mixer, with some room to grow. With an incredibly cheap entrance fee of $130, M-Audio’s Torq MixLab gives you the core tools you need to make mixes, sans vinyl records and turntables. The package includes the X-Session Pro USB MIDI hardware mixer and Torq LE, a paired-down version of M-Audio’s Torq DJ software.
The iKaraoke can connect to your stereo via cable, or transmit your voice to your FM radio over the airwaves. When you've been dumped, there's nothing quite as cathartic as belting out a rendition of "Love Hurts." In fact, we're pretty sure that's how some of the first-round contestants on American Idol got their start.