Harman/Kardon Go + Play review: Harman/Kardon Go + Play

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Harman/Kardon Go + Play

(Part #: HKGOPLAY5BLK) Released: Feb 1, 2007
3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good The Harman/Kardon Go + Play iPod boombox offers full, deep sound, along with an eye-catching design, RF remote control, video output, USB output, and aux input.

The Bad The Go + Play isn't yet compatible with the iPhone or many recent models of iPods, the power adapter is bulky, the dock is awkward, there's no EQ, no radio, and the design isn't for everyone.

The Bottom Line The Harman/Kardon Go + Play is one of the best-sounding portable iPod speaker systems you can buy, but its high price and lack of compatibility with recent iPod models make it a limited recommendation.

7.3 Overall
  • Design 8.0
  • Features 5.0
  • Performance 9.0

(Editors' note: Harman/Kardon plans to release an updated model of the Go + Play in the spring of 2009 that may address many of the concerns expressed in this review, such as compatibility with recent models of iPods and the iPhone. If you're considering purchasing a Go + Play and you're concerned about device compatibility, we recommend waiting until a new model is released.)

The Harman/Kardon Go + Play ($350) is a stunning portable speaker system for the iPod that made its debut in early 2007. After hearing the incredible sound of the Go + Play system, we're kicking ourselves for not getting our hands on it sooner.

Design
The Go + Play's design--like its sound--is hard to ignore. The most notable design elements are the two pairs of bug-eyed, metal speaker grilles placed symmetrically on the front and back of the speaker chassis and a rounded bar of brushed steel that carries the whole thing like some kind of futuristic bowling bag. The Go + Play measures 20 inches wide, 9 inches deep, and 9.5 inches tall, and is raised up slightly by four steel legs with rubber pads that prevent scratching and rattling.

The only buttons on the entire system are for power and volume, located on the top of the matte black speaker enclosure. An elegant, arc-shaped remote control is included, offering extended control for skipping tracks, pausing playback, and jumping through menus. The remote has an outstanding operating range of 30 feet, and uses RF technology that works through walls. When not in use, a pop-out compartment on the back of the Go + Play stores the remote out of sight.

For better or worse, the Go + Play's iPod dock is also located up top, tucked awkwardly beneath the handle. Unlike most iPod speaker systems we see, Harman/Kardon's designers decided to lay the Go + Play's iPod dock horizontally, making it difficult to see your iPod's screen. We're also disappointed that the Go + Play's iPod dock isn't tall enough to fit the iPod Touch or iPhone. The dock's reliance on Firewire voltage also means that many recent generations of iPods won't recharge in the current dock. Harman/Kardon plans to release an updated version of the Go + Play in the spring of 2009 that will address these issues, but until then, the iPhone, iPod Touch, and fourth-generation iPod Nano are poor partners for the system (both iPod Classic models seemed to fit and charge fine, though).


The six-button RF remote included with the Go + Play handles track control and volume, as well as iPod menu navigation.

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