Edifier iF330 Plus
Edifier is a Canadian-based company that makes a variety of stylish audio systems. The company seems to have limited distribution in the U.S., but its compact and affordably priced iF330 Plus audio system for iPods is more readily available stateside.
At first glance, the iF330, which costs around $75, looks like a small home iPod speaker system. But after we opened the box, we were surprised to find that the little speaker came with a battery option and a neoprene carrying case. The design is understated; there are some curved edges, but this is basically a little black box that measures 3.4 inches by 11.75 inches by 4.6 inches (HWD) and weighs 2.08 pounds without batteries. While it's an attractive speaker, the unit's glossy plastic finish is a fingerprint magnet. That's unfortunate.
The dock is retractable, but it's worth noting that it's not the smoothest retractable dock we've seen; it takes a little yank to get it out. You get the usual dock "sleeves" for various iPods and Edifier instructs you to pull the dock out a little farther if you have a "fat" iPod (there are markers for "thin" iPods and Nanos as well).
Indoors, the iF330 can be powered by an AC adapter. If you want to take it outside or simply don't have access to a power outlet, you can choose to pop six AA batteries (not included) into the battery bay on the bottom of the unit. The system accepts alkalines and rechargeable batteries, though we were unable to test whether you could recharge batteries in the unit itself.
Other than its mobile capabilities and the ability to output iPod videos to a TV through a composite video output (cable not included), the iF330 is pretty limited in the features department. There's a 3.5mm auxiliary input for PCs and other audio devices, and the small remote included with the system allows you to raise and lower volume, navigate menus on your iPod, and skip tracks forward and back. However, we didn't find the IR all that strong; you really have to point the remote directly at the sensor to get the desired response when you push a button.
The sound was pretty decent for such a compact speaker. Like all these little iPod audio systems, they do fine with less demanding lighter fare (ballads and soft rock) but throw a little too much bass at them and it gets pretty crunchy fast. You're basically looking at a small step up from a clock radio, so for casual listening in a bedroom or on a patio, the iF330 will do the trick.
By comparison, Logitech's larger Pure-Fi Express Plus isn't quite as portable--and doesn't have the video output--but it does have a built-in alarm and clock. It also sounds a tad better. That said, the iF330 is worth considering if you are looking for something that fits more easily into a suitcase or bag for travel--or day trips to the great outdoors.