The integrated iPod dock can be used with any of the eight adapter sleeves included to fit most iPods. Cambridge claims the i765 supports video-out on the newest iPod models including the iPod Touch, iPod Classic, and iPod Nano--but not the iPhone. Our testing verified that: we had no trouble playing videos from the fat iPod Nano, but the iPhone could only play audio. You can navigate iPod menus with the remote or with the i765's front panel controls; the remote navigation works fine, but since there's no navigation options displayed on the TV screen, you're going to need to be close enough to see the iPod's screen anyway. With newer iPod models, the artist and song title is displayed on the i765's LCD display.
The i765's stereo speakers and woofer are each powered by their own amplifier. The speakers are magnetically shielded so the i765 can be placed near a CRT TV or any other sensitive device without affecting picture quality. Using the jog dial, the sound can be set to stereo, mono, or "wide,"--the latter increases stereo separation beyond the 14-inch width of the i765's cabinet.
Feature comparisons to the Polk Audio I-Sonic tabletop system ($600) and Denon S-32 ($500) will be of interest to potential i765 buyers. The Polk sports HD Radio is XM-ready and has a pair of rear-mounted, built-in speakers that produce a more spacious sound than the i765. The I-Sonic lacks an integrated iPod dock--compared with the follow-up I-Sonic Entertainment System 2 ($500), which includes the dock, but loses the disc player and satellite radio functionality. The Denon system, meanwhile, includes an iPod dock, AM/FM radio, and the capability to stream network audio, but lacks the CD player, XM-ready function, and HD Radio found on the Denon S-52--which costs a whopping $700 total.
The Cambridge SoundWorks i765's CD and iPod sound was richly balanced, sounding bigger than we had expected. We fiddled with the bass, treble, and loudness controls and came away convinced of its ability to tailor its sound to taste. The bass was punchy and nicely defined while vocals were clear, however the treble detail was merely adequate. The FM tuner sounded very good and successfully pulled in the most difficult to receive stations cleanly. The i765 worked fine for playing back audio and video from our third-generation iPod Nano, but had trouble with our much older circa-2003 iPod--the remote didn't work at all, and once docked the iPod's controls froze. In other words, anyone with a fourth-generation or late iPod should be fine.
While watching DVDs with the stereo function set to "wide," the crowd noises on the Blue Man Group's The Complex Rock Tour Live were projected well out to the sides of the radio. While we enjoyed the ambience, the actual band itself was confined within the cabinet's narrow dimensions. The Blue Men play percussion instruments, which sounded decent, though they lack the dynamic punch we get from most $500 home-theater-in-a-box systems. By home theater standards, the bass wasn't all that deep or powerful, but overall definition was pretty good, and the i765 can play fairly loud without undue harshness.
Straight dramatic DVDs like Factory Girl, set in New York City in 1965, sounded fine. Dialogue came across clear and natural, as did the '60s rock music soundtrack. The i765 wasn't intended to replace a home theater sound system and it won't. But when judged as a compact music/entertainment center in perhaps a tiny bedroom or office, it'll be a competent performer.