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iLuv i9200 review: iLuv i9200 iPod speaker system

If you have a small budget but you're after an iPod speaker setup that's a bit different, the iLuv i9200 could appeal -- it has a modern design, decent sound quality and it could be yours for under £170

Nate Lanxon

Special to CNET News

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3 min read

The iLuv i9200 is an affordable way to get a modern-looking audio system that combines four CD players and an iPod dock. It's a heck of a lot cheaper than the Bang & Olufsen gear that it's styled akin to, but what's been sacrificed for a £300 lower price tag?

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5.5

iLuv i9200

The Good

Price; modern design; decent enough sound quality for the cost.

The Bad

Slight wobble when on the stands; low-def bass.

The Bottom Line

An affordable system for price-conscious modern folk to lap up. Could suit those after a gimmick, but a bit more dosh will get you a much sturdier design, improved sound quality and something a little less pointless

Design
It's hard to look at the i9200 and not think of Bang & Olufsen. But if B&O had designed this, they would have used much nicer materials and paid more attention to the finish.

The bendable plastic CD tray covers and the silver finish to the speaker reflex ports cry cheapness, but given the low cost we can't complain too much. The supplied infrared remote control feels pretty solid. Cheaper speaker systems often have tiny little remotes that kids could choke on, but the i9200's is more akin to a large-ish slab of Dairy Milk.

Both speakers and the main unit are detachable from their bases. You'll want to do this and wall-mount them as they are pretty wobbly when on the stands. The i9200 has wall mounting sockets in the back, and it's not a weighty piece of kit so most walls are likely to be strong enough.

Features
The main question is: why would you need four CD drives and an iPod dock? The simple answer is that if you have ripped all your CDs to a computer and transferred them to an iPod, you don't. But if you have a bunch of CDs lying around that belong to someone else, it could come in handy.

Each pair of CD trays is covered by a plastic slide-door that conveniently and automatically slides into the main unit with a simple button pushing manoeuvre. There's a large backlit LCD display in the centre that displays track numbers or the time, for example. It's not very pretty, but it does its simple job adequately. Power and volume controls come in the form of three large silvery buttons above and below the LCD display.

As for iPod manipulation, it's possible to play and pause, skip tracks and switch on the shuffle mode, but that's about it. We were disappointed not to be able to browse the iPod's menus on the i9200's screen as is possible on other systems. Other than that, the remote offers basic operation of the system itself.

A pair of twin drivers sits inside each speaker, one 90mm and one 45mm in diameter. Stereo speaker spring clips will secure your speaker wire into the back of the system. The clips sit alongside a dedicated auxiliary port for a sub, should you want to buy one separately.

Performance
Sound quality is very average. The general muddiness of some songs is the result of a low amount of bass definition, and the blending of low- and mid-range frequencies. The Dire Straits classic Brothers In Arms, with its deep bass and low vocals, sounded much darker than it does through more capable systems. The low ability with bass also meant that at higher volumes the speakers emitted a slight rattle. This wasn't present on all songs, but was noticeable on the ones affected.

General pop sounds fine, but more complex music with a wider range of instruments, mixes and frequencies sounds notably less defined than some people may want. That said, it's a cheap setup and isn't aimed at those audiophile folk who want perfect sound. Kids will love the hip design and certainly won't give a second thought if Britney's bass lines aren't quite as driven as on their parents' hi-fi.

Conclusion
There's no denying it: the i9200 is an affordable bit of gear. But build quality and sound performance is easily beaten in today's market, and the 'why?' factor is huge.

If you have a small budget but you're after something that's a bit of a gimmick, this could appeal. Otherwise, a bit of extra dosh will snag you a great deal more.

Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Kate Macefield