For the slew of companies creating speaker docks for the Apple iPod, distinguishing their products from the masses can be a bit of a challenge. Creating an eye-catching design is just one of the many ways to tackle this issue, and an increasing design trend is the animal-inspired speaker. Such is the case with the Vestalife Butterfly, a funky speaker dock that every iPod-toting 11-year-old girl will be scrambling to obtain. At $79, the Vestalife Butterfly is priced fairly, given the neat design and fair amount of features, but sound quality is definitely not its strong suit.
As the name suggests, the Vestalife Butterfly is shaped like the oft-collected winged insect. More specifically, it's roughly square in shape, except with pinched in edges to give the illusion of wings. The unit is constructed of white plastic with a rather overly large cut-out in the center front for the iPod dock. Vestalife includes three colored face plates in green, red, and blue that can be snapped onto the front to change the look of the speaker. There are three silver buttons on the front: one for power and two for volume. Other functionality is controlled via the iPod itself, and no remote is packaged with the unit.
Flipping the Butterfly around reveals most of its features. There are a variety of ports on the back, including one for power input. While the speaker is connected to wall power via the included adapter, it will charge a docked iPod. There's also an AV-out port, which may come in handy for older versions of the iPod that still allow video out through the dock connector. A line-in jack paired with the included stereo-patch cable allows you to attach the Shuffle or non-iPod MP3 players. The final port is mini-USB, which allows pass-through computer syncing, but only if you provide your own cable. The back of the Butterfly also has a flip-out kickstand for propping up the speaker and two battery compartments that accept four AA batteries (included).
Sadly, for all its cute design and solid feature offerings, the Vestalife Butterfly fails pretty miserably in the performance department. This is no doubt because there are just two tiny speaker drivers on the front, taking up maybe 15 percent of the space on the entire unit. Music sounds undeniably hollow and lacking in warmth, and bass response is practically nonexistent. Plus, stereo separation is not great, and the speakers don't get very loud. However, it's not all bad. Audio comes through very clear, with no background hiss or distortion. All-in-all, we'd put the Butterfly about on par with the stock white earbuds that come with the iPod. In other words, it's perfect for the tween in your life.