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Whole-house iPod listening for the rest of us

Griffin's Evolve sends iPod music to unlimited number of satellite speakers via 900 MHz.

Griffin Technology

Ever since Sonos opened the door for whole-house iPod wireless network solutions, numerous firms have tried to produce less expensive alternatives that also avoid the DRM issue, such as the conceptually similar but not as pricey Creative XDock systems. But both the Sonos and the Creative XDock require the addition of separate speakers.

Griffin's Evolve is a less ambitious $349 whole-house solution operating in the 900MHz spectrum. But for the money, you get a base that charges and broadcasts your music and video through two included speakers. Essentially, the twin 4-inch-square speakers charge on the transmitter base, then can be moved to any part of a room but no more than 150 feet from the charger/transmitter base. Imbued with Griffin's Intellisense intelligence, each new speaker knows which is the right speaker and which is the left speaker.

But the real magic is that an unlimited number of speakers can be added to the system, either in pairs or one per room. Each speaker is shipped with a unique network ID. When docked with the base, each learns which has to act left as the right speaker or the left or even mono.

A speaker can spit out music for as long as 10 hours on a single charge of its lithium-ion battery, and has to be returned to the base station for conductive recharging. No wires needed even to recharge. While designed for the iPod--iTunes video can be watched on a TV via composite or S-Video connections--any music player can be jacked in via a standard 3.5mm miniplug connector. The system is expected to be available in late May or early June.