So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
- Charging and synchronising capabilities, Good directional audio
- Poor sound quality, Look and feel, Only runs on AC power
The i-PODiUM is ultimately let down by poor sound quality. This is a shame as the universal device support as well as charging and synchronising capabilities show there is potential for this to be a very useful unit.
Price$ 79.95 (AUD)
There is a large number of portable speaker systems on the market, most of them designed to work with Apple's iPod range. But how many of them also work with Sony's PlayStation Portable (PSP), Nokia and Sony Ericsson phones and any other portable music player on the market? This is what Astone's i-PODiUM promises, with detachable docks for each different unit. Unfortunately, the i-PODiUM could have been a great product, if the sound quality wasn't so poor.
The i-PODiUM is a large, dome shaped speaker system that sits sturdily on a desk or table thanks to five anti-slip rubber pieces underneath it. The unit is a rather odd design and resembles a small spaceship, measuring 175mm x 61mm and weighing 300g. There are four two-way speakers (two on each side) and basic power and volume controls on the front, which are firm and difficult to press. The unit is finished in a gloss black plastic that unfortunately attracts both fingerprints and scratches quite easily. The top of the i-PODiUM houses a universal base with a small proprietary 10-pin connector, which you use to connect a dock. Included in the sales package are replaceable docks for an iPod, PlayStation Portable (PSP) as well as any Nokia and Sony Ericsson phones with a pop-port connector.
Although the idea is excellent and it scores points for its universal uses, the i-PODiUM is ultimately let down by poor sound quality. What Astone promises are four, high-quality, two-way speakers. What they deliver couldn't be further from the mark. To put it simply, the i-PODiUM sounds quite poor. Distortion is evident, even at moderate volume levels and bass is almost non-existent. There is no clarity or crispness and the unit is also top heavy in deliverance, lacking greatly in the lower frequencies; a trait common in most portable audio systems. The i-PODiUM's highs are over-accentuated and sound bare. All this, combined with the lack of bass, creates a sound that simply destroys your music.
The speakers are rated at two watts each, and not surprisingly, they didn't handle volume well. Even at moderate volume levels, slight distortion was evident, so we don't recommend pushing the i-PODiUM any further. Perhaps the only plus of this unit in terms of audio is its directional capabilities; because there are speakers on each side, listening at an angle to the unit doesn't sound any worse than when you are directly in front of it.
The i-PODiUM does offer a couple of other decent features. Your PlayStation Portable (PSP), iPod and Nokia and Sony Ericsson phones are charged when connected to the unit. Unfortunately, though, the unit only runs on AC power, so you can't use batteries - this rules out using the i-PODiUM in the car for traveling, for example. There is also an audio in jack on the rear, which means any portable music player with a standard 3.5mm headphone plug can be used with the i-PODiUM. Finally, there is a USB cable included in the package, so you can use the i-PODiUM as a PC dock for transferring files to your iPod or PlayStation Portable (PSP).
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