Griffin Evolve review: Griffin Evolve

MSRP: $299.99

The Good Wireless performance; general usefulness; simple to use; well-implemented features.

The Bad Sound quality; price.

The Bottom Line The Griffin Evolve is a brilliant idea and nice enough to use. Sound quality's very average, but overall it's a lovely little system with lots of potential applications

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7.5 Overall

If you've dabbled with wireless audio in the past you may have had mixed results -- some solutions require networks, some just cost a whole heap of money. Available in mid-March at a RRP of £249, Griffin's Evolve is designed to work right out of the box, with no messing around with wireless networks, media servers or even wires.

At its heart is an iPod speaker system, but with the ability to detach the stereo speakers as and when you please, it's potentially the dream setup for anyone who hates staying in the same place for any length of time.

Essentially, the Evolve is two things: a base station and a pair of cube-shaped speakers. Each weighty cube rocks a sturdy, glossy black enclosure, trimmed with a chunky rubberised edge, back panel and base. Inside is a single woofer, so everything from booming bass to crystalline highs need to be concurrently conveyed by a single driver. There's also no reflex port to rear, so air backfired by the driver has no way of escaping.

Metal contacts on the Evolve's speaker enable wireless charging

The base unit itself sports the same glossy plastic enclosure, only unlike the speakers it's not that heavy. Or chunky. In fact, it feels distinctly unfinished and hollow. Amazing really, considering the rock solid construction of Griffin's excellent Amplifi system. This all said, when the base is set down, it does its job, albeit in a Lego-esque fashion.

But it's inoffensive and it would be totally impractical to build something designed to be moved around so much out of wood. Around the back of the base station are a bunch of ports, including some inputs for non-iPod devices. Though there's no headphone jack, so you'll never be using the Evolve when you want some private listening.

Once you look past the highly plastic design, you see how appealing this kind of system is. It's the kind of thing a younger music fan will stop having tantrums about an unfair bed time in order to get one as a gift. It'll beam music from a base station in a bedroom to the kitchen downstairs. Buy a second pair and have it beam into the garden, too. Hey, buy as many pairs as you want and have music simultaneously playing in each room -- ideal for house parties.

The speakers will pump 12W from the built-in amp, and will play continuously for about 10 hours on a full charge. For charging, you simply plonk them on the base station -- metal contacts between the base of the speaker and the base station allow power to travel into the batteries without wires. It's a great idea and works a treat. Docking the speakers also allows them to decide which is a left-channel and which is a right.

Of course, should you not care about stereo, a switch lets you change the transmission to monaural, allowing you to use a single speaker in two separate rooms at the same time.

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