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iPhone Accessories: Sounds like... a blimp? B&W and THX offer some new speakers to plugin your iPod/iPhone

The B&W Zepplin and THX's Moko Speakers

So yes, there are iPhone-related products at CES 2008 primarily focused covers and protective skins and audio speakers. Two products that really caught my eye in terms of form and function are B&W's Zepplin(yes, a Zeplin, like the Hindenpeterof Family Guy fame - hope this one doesn't burst into flames) and THX/Razer's Makospeakers. Both are definitely against the grain from a Bose or a Altec Lansing iPod docking audio system. I've never liked the Bose docks - the sound is too grainy or metallic, and the Altec Lansing product at the CES just looked boring.

The Zepplin (it's just fun to say, isn't it?) and the Moko were fun. The B&W Zepplin weighs a ton and costs a ton too ($600) and was released late last year. It was the first time I'd ever seen it. The B&W rep invited me to plug my iPhone in and to ignore the error message. After this error, the devices eventually synched. The Zepplin is a complete one-unit speaker unit and, well, obviously looks like a Zepplin, supposedly to replicate a musical instrument's design.

Ignore this error message, says the blimp... Kevin Ho

I tried the various music tracks on my iPhone - classical, to hip hop to the Counting Crows.

The Blimp! B&W's Zepplin Kevin Ho

While the Convention Hall may not be the ideal place to test it, I was surprised as I pumped the volume and the Zepplin appeared to handle it well without bursting into flames and maintaining sound quality.

THe back of the Zepplin - no hydrogen here.

I wonder how it'd do in an office or home setting.

In contrast to that, THX and the gaming company Razer are releasing a two satellite, one subwoofer Moko desktop system that looks somewhat like a Cylon(yes, I geeked out there).

A poor picture of the THX/Razer Moko speakers, set to be released in February

The Mokos supposedly uses the desk surface it sits on to reflect sound up and is not as expensive as the Zepplin coming in at $399 (comparable to the Bose Companion 3 series). As would be expected the Moko's bass was strong and solid. Dance music a pumpin would be great on this system. The clarity, again in a sound hall, is hard to tell as I never plugged in my iPhone, but the THX rep spouted a bunch of numbers and hertzs to me to reassure me of its worth. The fact that I could hear what was being played over the din of the hall may speak volumes itself. (oh yes, what a pun!) Also, both the Zepplin and the Moko's come with remotes, one looking slender and sleek and the other like a contraceptive device.

The Moko's remote kind of looks like something else...

Assessment on both:

Form factor/design: solid and sleek. Each are unique.

Function: Couldn't really tell the sound quality as the convention hall din was overpowering, but based on extrapolation - good. The Zepplin hooks up to TVs as well and you can watch videos on your iPod and iPhone.

Price: At $600 and $400 respectively, a bit pricey, but other entries by others like Altec Lansing just fell flat.

Overall: The Zepplin is more of a status symbol and the Moko is an edgier product for gamers. Picking between the two would be based on what image you want to convey.