At CES this year, I got the grand tour of Speakal's latest sound docks. Most were not available at that time for review, but I finally was able to get a new "Cool iPig" to try out. The CiP is a small speaker dock (obviously done up in a pig motif) that includes motion-sensing technology. For a small speaker system, the unit pumps out good quality sound, and includes a rechargable battery. You need to be careful with your motions however, lest you inadvertedly blast your eardrums by moving too near the volume up control.
The new Cool iPig is made of sturdy high-impact white plastic (speakers and controls offset in black). The unit (with battery attached on the back) is around 3-4 lbs, but the unit I tested had a larger 1800mAh battery that made it a little heavier. There is an included charging adapter, and remote control. The battery should power the speakers for 6-8 hours without needing a top up, and snaps onto the back in a clamshell fashion. This dock will not charge your iPod/iPhone if it is running on battery alone, however. On the back, the CiP has an on/off toggle switch, and line in 3.5mm jack for other device input. Other than the motion sensor controls positioned around the unit, the CP is a pretty simple speaker dock. Left/Right sound comes out of the 2 4-watt speakers set in the unit's face. Bass comes out of a 15W sub-woofer in the belly.
Speakal docks--having seen many of them in action (and reviewed a few on the blog)--my impresssions are that they focus on innovative design ideas or shapes, and a good audio experience. They have a number of other animal-shaped or sports-motif speaker docks available. The Cool iPig is the same in most regards, though the motion sensor is unique (maybe a little gimicky --at least for me). The idea is that you can control any player aspect of the CiP with a gesture.
Put a hand in front of the "ears" for example and make volume go up/down, hand on the nose to play/pause, and on the sides to switch tracks. Neat, I guess...but, why not just use the remote? The speakers are better than the average small dock, easily outshining my Sony dock. The bass response is especially impressive. Even at high output, the unit produced practically no distortion.
I did have a few minor complaints. First, I could not dock my iPod touch 4G without using an extender (see above). The 2G had no problem, but I would make sure to buy an extender to be on the safe side ($20...I use one from RadTech
). Second the iPod is hard to get to when it is docked, as the dock depression is recessed on the back of the unit. If you reach for the iPod, you are likely to trigger one of the sensors, and the volume goes up/down, or the unit changes tracks (which can be a bit annoying). You can lock these features out, however.
I give the Cool iPig my general iPhoneLife approval rating (though admit it's not quite my style). The dock is well-made, and produces good sound. I like the portable aspect, removable battery, and the motion sensors are kind of a cool add-on. This would be a great gift for a teenager, or young adult with a compatible iOS device. The unit says it supports all iPods, iPhone types, but I would buy an extender or adapter if you have any doubts. Google it for pricing, but you should expect it to be in the $130-150 range (can also grab one here