Zizzle iZ: not just another toy
Quick Take: If there's one thing we can say about the $39.99 Zizzle Iz, it's that we've never seen anything quite like him (apparently, it's a boy). This musical toy isn't just a plaything. He can function as an external mono speaker for your iPod or other MP3 player, thanks to the short stereo-to-stereo cable included with the package. The sound quality that you get from the Iz's single speaker is better than you'd expect from such a device, but it's definitely subpar. There's no bass to speak of, though it hardly matters, as the Iz continually interjects his own noises and comments into your tunes. We could do without this feature, but we like that his nose flashes in various colors to the beat. When using the Iz in speaker mode, you can balance him on one of his three legs to better aim the single speaker located on the bottom of the toy. When you unplug your MP3 player, the Iz thanks you with a loud burp and a jive-sounding comment.
As a toy, the Zizzle iZ is engaging, though he can become annoying after a while; several CNET workers offered to throw him down the cement stairwell the first day we played with him. When you're the one using him, though, and once you've figured out how the samplerlike device works, it's a bit more entertaining. Turn on the Iz by pressing the large button on his belly. Depending on where you push, this button controls the volume and the tempo, cycles through the Iz's modes, or changes the beat tracks. The last is applicable when Iz is in Play mode; you can press the center of the belly button to volley through the seven beat tracks. There are also seven lead tracks and seven rhythm tracks that will match up with the beat; you twist the ears to control these. The flicker on Iz's head lets you add in random "scratch" sounds, which vary depending on the beat you're using. In DJ mode, Iz plays his own mixes, while WZIZ FM mode makes Iz think he's a radio. You can tune the "stations" by twisting an ear. Currently, Iz is available decked out in red, green, or blue.