The last Mint product we looked at--the
With the Mint Studio, the company has taken things a bit further, this time allowing for the USB transmitter to play back audio to up to three Mint Studio systems. The main bundle, which includes the speaker dock and a USB dongle, is $130, and extra speakers will go for $100.
The Mint Studio is pretty small: about the size of a loaf of bread. It's encased in a glossy black plastic that is quite the fingerprint magnet. Mounted on the front of the speaker is an iPod dock that is compatible with any iPod with a dock connection. Yes, this includes the iPod Touch and the iPhone. However, your iPhone will need to enter airplane mode to work, as the interference from the device will cause static during playback.
On the dock is where you'll also find all of the Mint Studio's controls. Stealthily positioned on the left side of the dock are the power and input buttons; the volume controls are on the other. Facing front are four blue LED-lit icon indicators, letting you know which function is active--unfortunately, however, these cannot be clearly read from a distance.
Included with the device is a small matching remote control that can switch the Mint Studio between its three modes. The remote will also give you some basic control over your iPod by allowing you to pause and skip tracks.
As mentioned above, the Mint Studio isn't just an iPod speaker dock. In addition to the standard line-in jack on its backside (so you can hook up any external non-iPod audio source), the Mint also doubles as a wireless external speaker for any Windows PC or Mac. Simply attach the included USB dongle to a free port on the computer, switch the Mint Studio to "wireless audio" mode, and you're all set. In our testing we didn't even have to sync the USB key to the speaker; pressing a "connect" button on both the key and Studio may be required, though. We should mention, however, that this essentially cuts off your existing sound card. As soon as you pull out the USB key, your PC or Mac switches back to the default sound output.
The USB dongle should autoinstall on newer Windows and Mac computers. And there are no issues with DRM or music restrictions--if you can hear something on your standard (wired or built-in) computer speakers, you'll hear it on the Mint.