RCA catches iPod accessory fever

RCA catches iPod accessory fever and releases two new iPod speaker systems at CES.

Matthew Moskovciak Senior Associate Editor / Reviews - Home theater
Covering home audio and video, Matthew Moskovciak helps CNET readers find the best sights and sounds for their home theaters. E-mail Matthew or follow him on Twitter @cnetmoskovciak.
Matthew Moskovciak
2 min read
Acoustic Research AR4131 blackVault
Acoustic Research AR4131 blackVault RCA

There are a ton of iPod accessories on the market, but RCA didn't let that stop it from rolling out two new iPod speaker systems at CES. RCA announced, under the Acoustic Research brand, the blackVault 2.1 speaker system, which brings some analog warmth to your digital music by way of a vacuum tube amplifier. The all-black design--along with the exposed tube--is eye-catching, although it definitely will look best with a black iPod. Atop the subwoofer is the dock for the iPod, which--like most of the units we've seen--is capable of charging your iPod. There's also an auxiliary input in case you want to listen to something other than your iPod. We haven't had much luck with other iPod speaker systems' claims that they can make compressed music sound better, so we're a little skeptical that the tube will provide enhanced performance. The blackVault 2.1 SpeakerSystem comes out in February with a $200 list price.

RCA RP5500i

RCA also had a less glamorous iPod speaker system to show off--the RCA RP5500i Dual Wake Clock Radio. Of course, it has an iPod dock, and there's a USB port to connect other digital music players. The big draw of the RP5500i is that you can set the alarm to play any song on your iPod, along with a feature that gradually increases the volume until you hit the snooze. There's dual-alarm functionality--so you can set two separate alarms--and activating the SmartSnooze function will make every button on the RP5500i act like a snooze button. You can also pop in a couple of batteries so the alarm will still sound if the power goes out. The whole thing doesn't sound too bad until you get to the price: $80 seems a little high, but we know nothing will stop people from buying iPod accessories. The RCA RP5500i Dual Wake Clock Radio will hit stores in May.