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Jewish World Review
March 24, 2006
/ 24 Adar, 5766
Coming, a hi-fi revolution
Apple Computer's iPod Hi-Fi is a $349 "boom box" of a stereo that
may leave some folks scratching their heads. For $200 less, one can get
pretty good sound - not exactly the same as the Apple unit, but rather
close - from a Logitech mm50 unit, which is smaller and much more
portable. Spend between $15 and $30, depending on where you shop, and
there are cables that'll connect an iPod to a home stereo system via
So what do I need to spend all that money for?
Sound is one thing: the iPod Hi-Fi does sound, well, like a high-fidelity
unit. The sound can fill a room or even over-fill it, if you crank up the
volume sufficiently. It is rich, the bass is deep and the treble trills
quite nicely. Some who've heard my evaluation unit complained about a lack
of "midrange" sound; I didn't notice any.
Compactness is another plus, albeit a relative one. The iPod Hi-Fi is,
indeed, the size of a small portable stereo, and it is somewhat portable,
as six "D" cell batteries can replace plug-in power. You could set this up
in a bedroom, drop in an iPod that has a built-in clock and, presto,
you've got an alarm that'll wake not only you but probably the folks down
the block. Plugged into the wall, by the way, you'll also recharge that
And while some critics have bemoaned the lack of a built-in radio tuner,
there's more than one way to compensate, it turns out. Within that
"compensation," though, are the seeds of what is truly revolutionary, or
perhaps better stated, evolutionary about this product.
Check out the back of the iPod Hi-Fi and you'll see a "line in" jack which
would handle your typical audio cable. But it's also equipped to handle
digital audio cables (and, yes, Apple has one from Belkin for sale). Both
the new MacBook Pro notebook and Mac mini desktop computers have
similar digital audio ports. Connect one of these computers to the iPod
Hi-Fi and not only can you play your iTunes library, it'll sound
amazing. As would, I imagine, broadband-based radio.
Now you can guess where this is going: I can imagine the iPod Hi-Fi as the
first of several products, presumably from Apple but perhaps from others,
that will take this digital audio output and make it a huge part of home
entertainment. If, as I suspect, Apple keeps bringing out items for the
home that capitalize on digital audio connections, then it may not be too
far off when a real revolution in home entertainment truly takes place.
For now, users will have to be content with life at the "bleeding edge" of
technology. The digital audio cables can be temperamental and connectors
can snap easily. There are limits to what you can, and can't, connect
right now. As mentioned, this stuff isn't cheap.
But early adopters can have the satisfaction of something approaching
utterly pure sound. The rest of us have, perhaps, something to look
forward to in the years ahead. The iPod Hi-Fi is in Apple retail stores
and other locations; details are also at http://www.apple.com.
ONE MORE MAC NOTE: Microsoft has release a very important update for its
Office 3004 for Macintosh suite that'll bring Entourage, the firm's rather
nice personal information manager/e-mail client into line with Spotlight,
the OS X Tiger search system, as well as "Sync Services," an OS X feature
that can keep everything up to date among different computers that you
use. Details at http://www.microsoft.com/mac/, and it's worth finding.
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
JWR contributor Mark Kellner has reported on technology for industry newspapers and magazines since 1983, and has been the computer columnist for The Washington Times since 1991.Comment by clicking here.
© 2006, News World Communications, Inc. Reprinted with permission of The Washington Times. Visit the paper at http://www.washingtontimes.com