The Astone i-Ballroom is a portable iPod speaker system that includes an alarm clock, FM radio and an S-video out port for connection to a television. Also featuring an auxiliary input which allows the connection of any MP3 player, the i-Ballroom is a solid unit but is let down by a lack of bass and poor sound quality at higher volume levels.
- Will dock all iPods without the need for dock inserts, alarm clock and FM radio functions, line-in jack, mini-USB port for synchronisation and charging, S-video out
- Build quality, sound quality, lack of bass, remote control buttons require a real firm press
The i-Ballroom has a couple of nice features and its design is quite attractive. In the end though, lacklustre sound and poor build quality let it down
Price$ 199.95 (AUD)
The i-Ballroom has a spherical design which Astone claims "enhances bass performance". Based on our experience with the device, we would have to disagree with this statement but we can't deny that the design is quite attractive. The device has a cavity on the front that fits an iPod nano perfectly. To mount a nano, insert the nano onto the iPod dock and then push both the dock and the nano into the cavity so that nano sit flush with the unit. However, larger iPods do not fit in this space and as such, sit on the exterior of the unit.
The i-Ballroom also includes an auxiliary input jack on the rear and a line-in cable in the package, so any digital music player with a standard 3.5mm headphone jack is supported. Unfortunately, build quality is a real issue; the display is easily pressed in and feels flimsy, the push out docking platform doesn't always click into place, and the power switch becomes loose after a few presses. hole
Using the i-Ballroom is a simple matter of plugging in the included AC adapter and docking your iPod. A remote is included in the package and allows users to increase and decrease volume, skip to previous and next tracks, play and pause tracks and adjust treble. Our only complaint is with the small buttons, on the remote as they generally require a firmer than usual press to register. Also, the fact that you can adjust treble, but not bass, is a puzzling and unfortunate design choice.
The i-Ballroom's sound quality is average but what we expected from a unit this size. It particularly suffers with bass, and as this can't be adjusted, the only saving grace becomes the preset equaliser settings on the iPod. Also, complex riffs aren't produced with any real crispness or clarity, and the i-Ballroom also suffers at higher volume levels.
The i-Ballroom can't run on batteries, so it only works through the AC adapter provided. The rear of the unit features a standard mini-USB port for use as a dock, an S-video out port (allowing connection of a photo or video iPod to your television to view pictures and video clips), as well as line-in and FM antenna jacks. Conveniently, when used as a dock, the i-Ballroom both charges and synchronises your iPod.
Unfortunately we struggled to get reception with the FM radio, and there are no presets, although it does have an auto scan feature. All information is displayed on the blue LCD screen, including the time and radio frequency in FM mode. The alarm clock function is standard where you can be woken by a buzzer, the radio, or your iPod which is definitely a nice touch.
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