Digital Lifestyles Outfitters iBoom
The accessories market for the iPod has exploded, as evidenced by the legions of white devices made by third-party manufacturers to add functionality to Apple's market-leading iPod. But Digital Lifestyle Outfitters' $150 iBoom is the first we've seen that turns the any dockable iPod (white or Mini) into a boombox.
The concept of sliding your iPod into this boombox is an easy one to grasp, so let's get right down to the particulars. DLO includes a plastic holder for the iPod Mini that makes it fit as snugly as a full-grown iPod, so no matter which model you have, compatibility won't be a problem. However, the older, top-connecting iPods won't work with this device.
Once the iPod is safely ensconced in the iBoom, it'll either start charging (if you're using the included AC adapter) or not (if you're running on the six not-included D batteries). Turn it on, start the music, and you are jamming. You can control the volume using the iBoom or the iPod scrollwheel, but EQ and most other functions are wisely left for the iPod to handle. The iBoom makes the iPod think it's at home in its docking cradle, so the screen is fully functional; just navigate to EQ, playlists, settings, and other functions as you normally would.
A digital FM tuner can pull in terrestrial stations when you're sick of your own tunes or if you want to check the news or sports scores. There's no antenna, so we weren't too surprised that the radio was fuzzy on most stations, but at least you get two presets for your strongest stations.
In our sound checks, the iBoom sounded as good as or better than you'd expect a small to medium-size boombox to sound. And we never heard it distort, probably because the device never pushes its four speakers over their 20-watts-per-channel limit--loud enough for a small party, but too quiet for a large one. Although the sound quality's not up to audiophile level, it's definitely good enough for the beach or small parties.
One final question: Can you carry it on your shoulder and strut down the street in the style of the old school? Yes, but we recommend using the comfortable handle on the back.