The line-in jack enables you to use the ShoqBox as portable speakers for, say, a portable CD player, but you can't record from an external source. The player includes an FM tuner, though you have to attach the included pigtail antenna to the headphone jack to activate this mode. You can set up to 10 presets manually or automatically, but you're forced to work with presets only--you can't manually browse through FM stations.
The volume cranks loud enough to disturb others in the immediate area, but don't expect the ShoqBox to power your next house party. You get five EQ options (rock, hip-hop, jazz, dance, and funk) but no user-defined mode. Unfortunately, each option eliminates practically all of the bass or treble response. There's a Dynamic Bass Boost button on top of the unit, just above the volume controls, which mostly makes everything sound muffled. You certainly wouldn't expect home-theater-quality sound from such a unit, but if you have a variety of music genres in your library, you'll likely find yourself adjusting the EQ for each song. Playback quality is significantly better with headphones, but that's not the main purpose of this product.
Music transfer may be simple, but you'll have to wait a while to fill up this device. In CNET Labs' tests, the ShoqBox scored an average of 0.19MB per second--painfully slow even by USB 1.1 standards. Without headphones, we reached 14.5 hours of continuous playback from the internal lithium-ion battery, beating Philips's rating of 10 hours. With headphones, the battery lasted 21.1 hours.