In the realm of adorable iPod speakers, Lanchiya Technology's Speakal line has to take the cake. You can find the accessory shaped as a ghost, a panda, even a flower pot. But perhaps even more endearing than all of these is the iPig 2.1 Stereo iPod Docking Station, which takes the form of--you guessed it--a portly piggy. Not everyone will be able to get past the cutesy design of this $130 audio accessory, but those who do will be rewarded with surprisingly good sound quality and an array of handy features.
The key to innovative design is creating something that is both functional and interesting to the eye, and the iPig succeeds on both counts. True, not all users will be keen on the piggy shape, but it's undeniably cute. It comes in four colors: white, black, yellow, and pink (for obvious reasons, we're partial to the last one). Every one offers a green LED indicator that makes up the pig's smile. The four legs serve as a stand that keeps the entire unit lifted about a half-inch off the surface upon which it is placed. It turns out that this is necessary, as peering at the bottom of the iPig reveals one of many surprises: a 4-inch subwoofer. Meanwhile, two 1.5-inch midrange drivers make up the pig's eyes, and two 1-inch tweeters rest beneath the ears.
More than anything, the ears of the iPig encompass all that is adorable about this speaker system. They comprise touch-sensitive volume controls, so you literally stroke them to adjust levels. It's rather fitting. The Speakal also includes a remote control with an impressive array of buttons. You can use it to control volume, playback, and mode, as well as navigate through the menus on the iPod. There are also buttons for adjusting bass and treble--a nice touch, though having some visual indication of these levels would be handy. The iPig also includes a bass knob on the back, next to the DC input, power switch, and auxiliary line-in port (provide your own stereo patch cable, and this speaker will work with any MP3 player).
When it comes to performance, we've learned to take cutesy iPod speakers with a grain of salt; many of them put all their eggs in the design basket, thus leaving little investment for the audio aspect. Happily, the iPig does not fall into this trap. A combination of the placement of the speakers, the inclusion of a subwoofer, and the capability to tweak bass and treble settings give this speaker a leg up in sound quality. Music sounds clear and open, and the details across the high-end come through with excellent definition. Mids sound fairly warm, but could be a bit richer. Most notably for a unit of this size, bass is impressively boomy (though it's not as tight as with some competitors), and the volume reaches almost ear-splitting levels with no distortion. All in all, the iPig is a great choice for porcine-loving iPod owners who don't want to sacrifice sound quality for a fun design.