Creative Labs ZiiSound D5 review:

Creative Labs ZiiSound D5

Though Creative clearly expects buyers of this audio system to have a Bluetooth audio device, it has equipped the unit with an auxiliary minijack input on the back so you can connect other audio devices with an optional cable. You can use this input for the iPod Shuffle, which does not have a 30-pin connector, or toss it in front of the television, where it can double as a TV speaker.

What happens when you're streaming music from your smartphone and a call comes in? The music pauses, and--when you hang up--it starts again where it left off. Alas, you can't use the D5 as a speakerphone, but that's not the end of the world.

As for sound, we were pretty impressed. With a Bluetooth connection, your digital music gets more compressed than it already is, but some companies, like Creative, infuse it with extra technology to optimize the sound; Creative uses something called the apt-x audio codec. We should also point out that the quality of the music matters less when you're dealing with a smaller speaker that doesn't accentuate the flaws created by compression. In other words, bigger and better speakers will highlight the flaws of your digital music. By comparison, ignorance is bliss: when listening to the ZiiSound D5, it's pretty hard to tell you're listening to music streamed wirelessly via Bluetooth.

The little speaker offers more bass than its size would indicate and decent, though not exceptional, detail. The D5 can also play pretty loudly, but it does a better job filling a small- to medium-size room than a large one with sound. For reference, we kept the volume on the speaker at about 80 to 85 percent from the top and then adjusted the volume via the control on our iPhone.

All in all, though we had some small gripes, we came away liking the D5 a lot. It offers better sound than the step-down Creative D200 speaker, which doesn't come with the iPod dongle and is targeted more toward owners of non-Apple devices. However, that model is less than half the price, costing just $130.

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