Tivoli Audio i-Pal

So you bought your new iPod and want to share the music with all your friends. There are plenty of options from the inMotion speaker set to Creative’s portable speaker options, Tivoli Audio are hoping to pip both to the post with the introduction of its restyled player to fit in with the iPod - the iPal. Described on the back of the unit as a Portable Audio Laboratory the results aren’t far off.

A solid unit the size of a stubby house brick and weighing like one (it actually weighs 2lb - the same as a bag of sugar), the unit has a well made feel to it - first point scored. The second is that rather than just offering you the option of outputting your music from your iPod, Tivoli Audio has built in an FM/AM tuner into the mix.

Featuring a large dial that takes centre stage on the front of the player, the radio is not only easy to tune, it offers a 5:1 ratio tuning dial, but also produces a good reception without the need of the large aerial on the rear of the unit.

Those not interesting in the radio side of things can opt to simply plug their iPod or other portable MP3 or CD player into the “aux in” socket at the rear. Sound is pumped out from a single speaker at the front and the quality is very good. Sound is well rounded, not too tinny or bassy and more importantly capable of getting quite a clear loud sound. We found best results were achieved by letting the speaker do all the work and tuning down the volume to a low setting on the iPod or MP3 player we tested it with.

The whole device is powered by a NiMH battery, which Tivoli Audio says will charge in 3 hours. You can opt to have the charger plugged in all the time, but that sort of defeats the object. What doesn’t defeat the object however is the rubberised seals on the rear of the player over the “aux in”, headphones and power in sockets. Why are they rubberised? So you can take it outside in the fine English weather that’s why. While not weather proof, it is weather resistant meaning it will withstand the odd spot of rain but not a full blown gale and rain storm.

Verdict

This player has it all when it comes to providing either radio or speaker output for your iPod or MP3 player. Whether it's the Henry Kloss (he co-founded Cambridge soundworks) tuning dial, or the included white cable to connect your player, the unit has been well built and well executed. The box suggests using an iTrip in the mix to save the wire and with the precision of the tuning dial it makes sense. This is one gadget we are hoping we get to keep. What's the catch? The price, at £130 this is more than the inMotion set and twice the price of Creative's offering.