CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again

Sonance iPort review: Sonance iPort

  • 1
Hot Products

The Good In-wall iPod docking station; charges your iPod; provides video connection for the iPod Photo; compatible with Crestron or AMX touch-screen control systems.

The Bad You (or a custom installer) must cut holes in your walls to install the iPort; expensive; works only with newer iPods.

The Bottom Line The Sonance iPort lets you anchor a whole-house music system using your iPod.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

7.4 Overall

Review Sections

While there seems to be an endless proliferation of iPod accessories, the iPort--Sonance's in-wall docking station for iPods--is the first of its kind. The device can be hooked up to any stereo, home theater, or multiroom audio system--no surprise here, since Sonance is a leading manufacturer of in-wall speakers and whole-house distributed audio systems. When you arrive home after a hard day, just drop your 'Pod in the iPort and the hits will keep on comin' over your home system. The iPort, which retails for $599, is one of the coolest accessories we've seen in a long time, though it does require you to position the iPod at the center of your entertainment universe, if it's not already.

The iPort is a 5-by-6.8-inch, inset wall frame, finished in white ABS plastic that matches iPod's look. The system also includes a separate wall plate that houses stereo RCA audio connections; a DC power receptacle; and a set of interchangeable cradles that can accommodate the iPod Photo, the iPod Mini and the third- and fourth-generation iPods--essentially, any model with a dock connector on its underside. (Alas, first- and second-gen iPods won't work.) The included power supply charges the iPod while it is docked in the iPort. The iPort's video output allows photos and slide shows stored in iPod Photo players to be routed to your TV.

If you're comfortable snaking wires and cutting holes in your wall, you can probably install the iPort yourself. Dealers will charge approximately $100 to $200 for a straightforward, single-room installation.

With the iPort hooked up to your A/V receiver, you can remotely control your iPod's volume from the receiver, but changing tracks or accessing playlists remains a hands-on process unless you add Ten Technology's nifty NaviPro EX remote-control module ($49) to your iPod. Alternately, Sonance's Navigator K2 in-wall keypad ($550) and a high-resolution LCD touch-panel display offer complete remote control over your iPod from each wired room in your house. Crestron and AMX control systems are also compatible, and you'll likely need a custom installer to hook it all up.

We compared the sound of our iPod/iPort combo to our reference Pioneer DV-45A DVD player. Our iPod is loaded with AAC files, so compared to CDs played in a DVD player, it generates a duller treble range and muddier bass. That came as no surprise--as good as the iPod can be for music on the go, CDs offer higher fidelity. Nevertheless, the sonic shortcomings are the fault of the compressed digital music on the iPod, not the iPort; ratcheting up the sampling rate or switching to Apple's lossless compression file format will yield better-sounding music for discriminating listeners.

The iPort does exactly what it sets out to do--but is it an overengineered solution? There's a long list of alternatives that don't involve cutting a hole in your wall. A CD/DVD megachanger such as Sony's 400-disc DVP-CX995V could essentially duplicate your iPod's musical offerings without the need to digitize. And the Sonos Digital Music System offers a user-friendly--and easily expandable--method to enjoy your music wirelessly. If you've already loaded your 'Pod with a few hundred dollars worth of songs from Apple's proprietary iTunes Music Store, the AirPort Express can stream songs directly from iTunes on your PC or Mac. Or a variety of iPod-compatible speakers can fill a room with music, and many can simultaneously charge your iPod.

And don't forget the ultimate budget solution: if you merely want to play your iPod through your home-theater system, take the low-tech route and buy a $5 RadioShack adapter cable with a stereo miniplug at one end and a pair of stereo RCA jacks at the other. Use that to connect your iPod to your receiver and you're set, and if you add the NaviPro EX, you can run the whole show from your easy chair. Still, it's nowhere as cool-looking as the iPort, and this gambit won't charge the iPod's battery.

For anybody who's seriously interested in the iPort solution, however, the alternatives won't cut it. For deep-pocketed music fans who are dedicated 'Pod people, the iPort will be worth it simply for the totemic symbolism of jacking your iPod into your entire house. And with Sonance now developing a separate iPort division, we expect to see a lot more models and features coming down the pike.

Hot Products

This week on CNET News