There’s a lot of iPod accessories floating around these days, from a variety of manufacturers. Of the ones I’ve seen, the best and most useful tend to come from either Griffin Technologies or MacAlly. I’ve just spent a week playing with MacAlly’s PodWave speakers and I’ve found it the best solution to solve a problem I didn’t even know I really had, which was “How do I listen to my iPod while it’s charging in the dock and I’m moving around working?” Before, I’d have the iPod’s headphones plugged in, which left me tethered to my desk or wherever else the iPod was plugged in. If I unplugged the iPod to move with me, that ran the battery down. I didn’t really think about it, and chalked it up as one of life’s little trade-offs. Then I got the PodWave.
With the PodWave plugged in, I didn’t have to make that trade-off anymore, and the speakers were small enough that I could just toss it into my backpack on my way out the door. What made it better than most other speaker solutions I’d seen was that the PodWave had no cords to mess with, and pretty good sound for two small speakers.
The sound quality was what impressed me the most about the PodWave. While the sound quality is not equivalent to my PowerBook’s internal speakers (which itself is a considerable feat to match) it was better than I’d expected for such a small package. The PodWave’s sound is pretty clean and distinct. It’s not tinny, and while there’s no thump in its bass, you can hear enough bass at normal listening levels to satisfy the type of needs you’ll have for such a small speaker system. There’s no shrillness either. It also is pretty good with separating sounds, thanks to MacAlly’s decision to have the speakers positioned to the sides rather than face the listener. Also nice is that, thanks to the one connection plug being a standard headphone connection, it’ll work with all of the iPods and anything else that has a headphone jack. Volume control is governed by the iPods themselves, so the only control actually on the PodWave is an on-off switch. Below is a good look at the back of the PodWave, including the on-off switch (labeled as a volume-mute – volume-on switch,) as well as the battery compartment for the single AA that powers the PodWave.
Can you get a similar product from another vendor? Sure. Griffin makes its iTalk, which is a one-speaker solution in addition to its ability to record voice. Monster Cable makes the iSpeaker, which is a speaker solution that hooks into your iPod with a cable. The PodWave, however, seems to be the best-designed one of the lot and works the way I want it to. I want to be able to plug it in, not fuss with cords, listen to my music then be able to toss it along with my iPod in my bag when I need to be on the move. From that standpoint, the PodWave stands out as the best in its category.