By Chris Scott Barr
A few days ago I gave you my full review of the iPanda, and hinted that I had another similar device to check out. The other iPod dock that I was referring to was the iBoo, which is also from Speakal. This time around they have slimmed down a few of the features into a less-expensive ghostly shape. The main question is whether or not the lower price means lower quality.
So what are the main differences between the iBoo and iPanda? Well if you’ll recall the iPanda had 5 individual speakers (1 bass, 2 mids and 2 tweeters). In order to trim down the price the iBoo has only three speakers. The mids have been removed, while the tweeters are now picking up the slack. Another change is that the sub only puts out 9W, bringing the grand total to only 15 Watts of output.
On paper it doesn’t look like the iBoo will be all that impressive when stacked up against its big panda brother. Once again I’m surprised. For obvious reasons, the sound wasn’t quite as strong, but the dedicated bass does deliver decent lows and the new tweeters produced some very clear highs. As one would expect, the mids were a bit washed out, but the overall sound was still fairly impressive given the hardware.
You might recall that I was a bit upset by the lack of controls on the iPanda, noting that only volume controls and an on/off switch were present. This is something that the iBoo thankfully has improved upon. The touch-sensitive volume controls are back (one on either side of the ‘head’) as well as the addition to a play/pause and back/forward navigational buttons. There is a constant blue light underneath the iBoo, which blinks to let you know a button has been pressed.
The remote has been slimmed down to only 12 buttons. Since there are no bass or treble controls, these buttons are missing. Curiously they have decided to remove the controls for switching between your iPod and the auxiliary input.
Once again I decided to test out my iPhone, and was pleased to find that it worked for the most part. It charged, played and the iBoo’s controls had no issue getting it to play, pause or skip tracks. Airplane Mode is still needed to eliminate the annoying interference. The iBoo is not advertised to work with the iPhone, so this is still a welcome addition.
If you aren’t too picky about your sound quality, I would certainly suggest giving the iBoo a shot. The audio is still good enough for most people,but you’ll get better sound than with some other similarly-priced products. The iBoo comes in red, white and blue, with a cost of $90 each.
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