The Mint 220 Wireless Digital Music Station offers us something that we haven't yet seen in an iPod speaker dock. Instead of combining iPod playback with a CD player or AM/FM alarm clock radio, the Mint 220 gives you the ability to wirelessly stream any audio from a PC or Mac. All that's involved in this process is the simple attachment of a USB key.
Before we look at the Mint 220 in detail, however, let's talk about the unit's somewhat confusing pedigree. When we last looked at a Mint product, the DMS300, it was being distributed by a company called "Mondo USA." Fast forward a year later and now Digital Signature, out of Santa Ana, Calif., is behind the reigns of this Mint product, even as the DMS300 appears to be alive and well on the Mondo Web site. That sort of corporate musical chairs doesn't exactly inspire confidence, and may make it tough to get support for (or even locate) the latest Mint product. That's unfortunate, because the Mint 220 fills a nice niche in the increasingly crowded iPod speaker arena.
The 220 is pretty small--about the size of a loaf of bread. It's encased in a glossy black plastic that is quite the fingerprint magnet. Mounted on the front of the speaker is an iPod dock that is compatible with any iPod with a dock connection. Yes, this includes the iPod Touch and the iPhone.
On the dock is where you'll also find all of the 220's controls. Stealthily positioned on the left side of the dock are the power and input buttons, while the volume controls are on the other. Facing front are four blue LED-lit icon indicators, letting you know which function is active--unfortunately, however, these cannot be clearly read from a distance.
Included with the device is a small matching remote control that can switch the 220 between its three modes. The remote will also give you some basic control over your iPod by allowing you to pause and skip tracks.
As mentioned above, the Mint 220 isn't just an iPod speaker dock. In addition to the standard line-in jack on its backside (so you can hook up any external non-iPod audio source), the Mint also doubles as a wireless external speaker for any Windows PC or Mac. Simply attach the included USB dongle to a free port on the computer, switch the 220 to "wireless audio" mode, and you're all set. In our testing we didn't even have to sync the USB key to the 220--pressing a "connect" button on both the key and 220 may be required, though. We should mention, however, that this essentially cuts off your existing sound card. As soon as you pull out the USB key, your PC or Mac switches back to the default sound output.