Creative TravelSound i80
A tiny speaker for the iPod nano
- Unique style, great battery life
- Poor sound quality
The TravelSound i80 is a truly portable iPod nano speaker with a long battery life to suit. Nevertheless, its design and portability are let down by poor quality speakers that ruin the overall experience.
Price$ 89.95 (AUD)
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Although the iPod speaker market is quite large, there is still limited choice if you're after truly portable speakers. Creative has attempted to remedy this situation with the TravelSound i80 — a handheld speaker suited to the third generation iPod nano. It is quite stylish and portable, but the extremely poor sound quality does not justify the price.
The TravelSound i80 is designed almost solely for the third-generation iPod nanos — previous iterations of the nano will also fit in the device, but the plastic side arms will not allow a full-sized iPod to be attached. Because of this, the i80 is tiny. It is only slightly larger than the iPod nano itself, and perhaps three times the thickness — the device is truly designed to be handheld.
The i80 is essentially an iPod dock with a speaker attached and an embedded battery, combined and finished in a two-tone gloss white and aluminium silver colour scheme. Although the third generation iPod nano is not available in gloss white, this does not detract too much from the dock's styling; it should suit all nano colours.
Connectivity is simple, with a mini-USB used for both charging through an AC adapter and synchronising with iTunes using through a mini USB to USB cable, although one isn't bundled. A volume control and an on/off switch complete the device. The i80's unique design is complemented by its light weight, something which is surprising given its embedded battery.
Unfortunately, once we actually turned on the TravelSound, our impressions fell flat. Four micro-drivers support stereo sound at a total of 1.4 Watts. While this power rating should suffice for most cases, its placement at the back of the device instantly detracts from the speaker's sound quality. Additionally, the drivers themselves don't seem to be of particularly high quality. Increasing the speaker's volume to a level where you and your friends could comfortably hear it distorts mid-range and bass frequencies. While we didn't expect bass frequencies to be a prominent feature in such a small device, it is almost non-existent. Both bass and treble frequencies are drowned out in favour of an elevated mid-range. Dance and electronic music suffered particularly, as did music with prominent female vocals.
We didn't expect the TravelSound i80 to sound brilliant, but even so the results were unimpressive. Given that the target market for device is people who want to use it outdoors at least some of the time, its inability to reach reasonable volumes without distortion means that the i80 falls short of its intended purpose. Despite being stylish and portable, the TravelSound i80 disappoints.
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