February 28, 2006 5:38 PM PST

iPod Hi-Fi has big-sounding ambitions

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Steve Jobs is a self-confessed audiophile.

He's spent, well, a lot of money on speakers in his time, he told a small audience of reporters Tuesday. But he said he's now giving up those expensive speakers for the new iPod Hi-Fi, Apple's new speaker accessory for the iPod music player.

Whether that's literally true, or a bit of Jobsian hyperbole to underscore a point, it's undeniable that Apple's new speakers do push the company further out of the computing world and into the home electronics business--if only a little further.

Photos: iPod Hi-Fi is not alone

Jobs and Apple are pitching the iPod Hi-Fi as a replacement for the home stereo system. And indeed, the audio quality is very respectable for a small set of speakers in a single box, even if it's not quite on the level of a full traditional home entertainment system.

Analysts say that with 42 million iPods sold, the $349 speaker system is likely to find a market with some music fans who want an easy way to listen to their digital music collections at home, or in rooms without a stereo system. Actually replacing home entertainment systems, which are increasingly connected to TVs, could be more of a challenge.

"The price point and form factor are likely to appeal to people who are younger and have less disposable income, and who are making their first home stereo purchase," said IDC analyst Susan Kevorkian. "It's less likely to appeal to people who have a home entertainment system."

If anything, the new iPod Hi-Fi system underscores the tentative nature of Apple's move into the living room, with the company offering one or two consumer-electronics features at a time instead of a broad line of products.

For the new Mac Mini, which many predict will ultimately turn into a full-fledged entertainment hub, Apple has added the TV-friendly "Front Row" navigation system and made connecting it to the TV simple. But it has not added video recording features that would let it match TiVo or Microsoft's Windows Media Center PCs.

Apple has long offered a device called the Airport Express, which allows computer users to stream music directly from a computer to their stereo, or to a pair of powered speakers. Jobs said the new device was aimed at people who make the iPod the center of their music listening life, however.

"We put a lot of work into making the iPod an indispensable part of on-the-go living," Jobs said. "We think we've done a pretty good job at that. Now it's time to add a second focus, which is in the home."

Click here to Play

CNET Video:
The iPod goes hi-fi

Steve Jobs sounds off on "home stereo quality."

The iPod Hi-Fi enters a market where traditional speaker makers and home electronics companies already produce a wide range of devices aimed at turning the portable audio player into a home stereo system. The presence of strong competition from Apple is likely to sink spirits in an industry where iPod accessory makers must pay Apple royalties of close to 10 percent of the wholesale prices, sources have said.

For now, existing Apple partners say they're welcoming the iPod maker's competition.

"It reinforces the fact that the third place for the iPod (after portable and in-car use) is in the living room," said Digital Lifestyle Outfitters vice president of marketing Andrew Green. "Although we're taking different tacks, we both see the living room as a new home for the iPod."

The most familiar of these products is likely Bose Electronics' $299 SoundDock. But other rivals, including Altec-Lansing and Digital Lifestyle Outfitters, have recently introduced products that also connect to the television, so video iPod owners can watch videos on TV or listen to music.

All of these are cheaper than Apple's entry, with Altec-Lansing's subwoofer-packed inMotion7 retailing at $249. DLO's HomeDock, which allows the iPod to connect to existing home entertainment systems, costs $149.

See more CNET content tagged:
Apple iPod Hi-Fi, home stereo, home entertainment, Apple iPod, DLO

46 comments

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A modest entry into accessory market
This fits in with what I have been saying on other threads. The
point of the iPod Hi-Fi and the new leather iPod cases is that
Apple partakes of some of the sells that are now going to high
end third-party manufacturers. However, Apple's entry into the
market is modest. It isn't selling a $150 iPod case to compete
with Coach, or a $125 sound system to compete with Altec-
Lansing. Instead, its price points are set to fill unoccupied
niches.

I expect a more bold movement into the livingroom when Apple
makes its anniversary announcements April 1st.
Posted by J.G. (837 comments )
Reply Link Flag
not revolutinary (they got stuck)
This is not revoluutinary at all.
Its an idea that got stuck trying to be revolutionary.
Some from apple reading this hopefully, who can actually see
past the block that was stumping them the whole time?

1) An ipod sticking out of the speaker...(take a look at the living
room pick they have on their site...classy living room, nice black
grill speaker, with an odd object <ipod> coming out of
nowhere.
1a) this is as awkward as the imac trying to look like a nice
monitor <oops wheres my computer> but has a mile of space
under the screen. <of which i heard many comments in the
apples stores on its release of "how odd"

2) a remote control? Are you serious? Whats your vision? You
going to memorize 1000 songs, etc to remote by memory?
Are you to lazy once you are close enough to the screen to click
the button that you have to have a remote?

SOLUTION:
I see where you are going...take over the living room...first
speaker, then t.v. <like ipod, first music, then tv, next film>

1) the ipod <all of them> are your remote.
The people with ipods carry them anyway. Its plastered to their
bodies.
The shuffle as you click the play button, will detect the speaker
and sound will come out. HOw cool? No wires mom!
2) The ipods with video capability, remote for the new apple tv.
Sit your butt on the couch, grab your sleek, small, thin, ipod and
click a button...wow, it plays your movie on the T.V.
<Now they may argue that the tech is not there for this part
yet...but have you seen the stuff they have with touch screen?
<they not being apple> they have it where you can resize
photos with your fingers, Im sure you have ran across the link in
recent days...this leads to other great possibilities, but getting
on track

PURPOSE
Not to have odd objects popping up like a leech on your steros
back, etc. By the way can this even hook up to your mac?
Also, again, the ipod is your clikcing remote control device...just
needs to be implemented that way.

Best to all

Gods Peace

dalen
Posted by dalen7 (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Can be hooked up to anything
This speaker system ahas a standard audio in port which means you can connect your computer (mac or windows), your airport express airtunes, your other "mp3" players.. infact any audio device with either a headphone or rca (think red white) connector.
Posted by (27 comments )
Link Flag
Apple skimped on features....
With stupid iPod Hi-Fi. Coudn't they have included a display this thing to show which track is playing? No FM radio either. Home stereo reinvented...are they kidding themselves? As you have pointed out, that ipod sticking out is really ugly, not to mention there are no buttons except for volume on this latest Jobs conception. Loose your teeny-weeny remote you will have to cough-up more dollors for a new one. I can see how overconfidence leads to stupid products from even a company as good as Apple.
Posted by indrakanti (90 comments )
Link Flag
theres nothing hi-fi about lossy media!
nothing!
Posted by brian g--2008 (25 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Theres nothing hi-fi about lossy media!
Ture (to a pont). I hate it when a word (or phrase) is used out of context to drive a sell. It really isnt right to call it Hi-Fi since MP3's as a technology dont meet (yet) the mimimum requirements for measurements of frequency response and distortion to be considered Hi-Fi.

A better name world be Apple Ugly.
Posted by jleemc44 (22 comments )
Link Flag
Very Poor Design
It looks like a mini fridge with an iPod sticking out of it. This isn't very Apple-esque.
Posted by Charleston Charge (362 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Butt Ugly Radioshack class gizmo...
... and stereo with only a 1 foot speaker separation?? Maybe, for
very small minds. Bose did it better, KLH and JBL did it better and
cheaper.

This is definitely not in the Apple tradition.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Yes
My thoughts as well.

One would think that device would match or exceed the style that Apple is known for.

I thought the Altec-Lansing inMotion iM7 or the Bose systems had a lot better style.
Posted by Sboston (498 comments )
Link Flag
Just a market test
I suspect this was designed and built by a third party, and Apple is using this to test the market and get real world feedback. I get the impression that this is a transitory product announcement.
Posted by R. U. Sirius (745 comments )
Link Flag
Hillariously accurate assessment
I agree. When I saw that, I was like, "uh, what?"

I know Apple wants to revolutionize the living room, but everyone I know who's serious about entertainment still points to their stack of like-shaped rectangular boxes.. "this one is the CD player, this one is the amp, this one is the equalizer" and so on an so on.

I don't think this product is very revolutionary.

Here's what I'd like to see. A standard-sized rectangular shaped box. On the front, an open/close button. When you click open, a tray slides out and you lay your ipod in the tray and press close.

Up on your TV comes the familiar iTunes-like (or Front-Row-like) interface and you pick the songs you want, or the playlists, and then it plays through your existing stereo speakers. If you had the playlist all set-up, you could turn the TV back off, or select from one of the cool visualizations that go along with the music.

Revolutionary? Not really. But a step towards owning the living room.

I realize that tape-loading servers are notoriously unreliable, so maybe an ipod-loading system wouldn't be worth the cost, but it would sure seem cooler than manually docking or connecting a cord, especially when leaving the house in the morning, pressing that open button and collecting your ipod from its fancy storage container/secret compartment. :)
Posted by TV James (680 comments )
Link Flag
Spraying virtual Prozac
Considering that no one on the thread has actually seen the iPod
Hi-Fi, the endless stream of criticism is pretty ridiculous. The
dyspeptic behavior of participants in this forum must be a
mental health issue. So, in the interest of mental hygiene, I offer
an anti-depressant.

In more sane quarters, rational people are testing the iPod Hi-Fi.
They will write reviews describing both the positive and negative
aspects. I look forward to reading those reviews, which will have
been written by people who actually know what they are talking
about. I do not look forward to more carping from people who
have only seen pictures of the device.
Posted by J.G. (837 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Umm...
there are pictures attached on the article. Try taking a look at them.
Posted by Charleston Charge (362 comments )
Link Flag
Its speakers!
Its speakers! For crying out loud.
Posted by Stan Johnson (322 comments )
Link Flag
obviously better product already out for ipod
and cheaper too
Posted by Stan Johnson (322 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What is the better product?
Does it have better sound than Apple' product?
Posted by open-mind (1027 comments )
Link Flag
Serious doubt of true HI-FI
Based on my previous experiences with any small speaker
systems, especially those with both left and right channels in
one box (such as the Bose Wave Radio), it is very unlikely that
this device will be true HI-FI. For proper response across a large
frequency range and decent stereo imaging, the speakers
generally need to be larger and spread wider apart. That doesn't
mean that this device will sound bad - just very likely not true
HI-FI.

That being said, I still think that it's one of the best looking iPod
audio docks. Here's to hoping it's one of the best sounding!
Posted by ddesy (4336 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I agree...maybe not true HI-FI
but it is an ugly box.
Posted by Stan Johnson (322 comments )
Link Flag
Is your iPod safe?
I'm not an iPod owner but if I were the iPod Hi-Fi would be very very low on my list of accessories.

Portable speakers for the iPod, nice idea but what's with the prop-ya-pod dock on the top of the unit? How stable, secure and strong is it?

The value in it will ultimately come down to the quality of the sound but I'd be inclined to go with the Altec Lansing InMotion iM7 that C|net's own Jasmine France names as a top pick. My reasoning comes down to the more secure looking iPod cradle. With the iM7 there's less chance of your iPod hitting the deck when you're (shock, horror!) moving your portable speaker system.
Posted by j3st3r (70 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Why would anyone do that?
People with common sense will remove the iPod while moving the
Hi-Fi.
Posted by J.G. (837 comments )
Link Flag
Why now?
Why is Apple bothering to put out an external stereo system for the iPod now? Third-party manufacturers have been making them for years now. If I'm going to buy an external speaker for my iPod I would get the Bose SoundDock which is $50 cheaper than the Apple offering. Besides Bose is a well known manufacturer of sound equipment. Apple's speaker system is too little, too late.
Posted by napsterlover2375 (38 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You asked, I answer
1) Competition. The Hi-Fi is priced higher than iPod
competitors and lower than elite sound systems. Perfect niche
for the wannabe a step above market.

2) Audiophilia. Jobs says he is a stickler for sound. So he had a
system designed that he thinks presents the iPod's sound at its
best.

3) Compatibility. Based on keynote statements, Apple wanted
a directly integrated dock that iTunes software responds to.
This is it.
Posted by J.G. (837 comments )
Link Flag
Message has been deleted.
Posted by veniex (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I wont be getting this
I heard this thing is heavy so I wont be getting it. If I cant travel with it then I'd rather stick with my p.c speakers instead.

100 movies for your ipod:
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://veniex.googlepages.com/" target="_newWindow">http://veniex.googlepages.com/</a>
Posted by veniex (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Use it as a center channel speaker?
The only reason I'm thinking about one of these is because I'm currently shopping for a center channel speaker in a 6.1 setup, and this would give me the additional option of quick, occasional ipod music input. It has line level inputs, so that should be theoretically possible. But I'll have to hear the sound quality first.
Posted by jessesands (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
HERE IS A PROPRT REVIEW
Here is a comphrehensive review of the ipod hifi. Now you can make some sort of informed opinion instead of judging a book by its cover !!!

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.ilounge.com/index.php/reviews/comments/ipod-hi-fi-high-fidelity-speaker-system-for-ipod/" target="_newWindow">http://www.ilounge.com/index.php/reviews/comments/ipod-hi-fi-high-fidelity-speaker-system-for-ipod/</a>
Posted by MaceoParker (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Finally, good sense!
Thanks, Mace. The thread needed actual information. I'm pretty
peeved with the commenters who are posting rants both here and
on the review threads without ever having used the product.
Posted by J.G. (837 comments )
Link Flag
HERE IS A FULL REVIEW
Here is a comphrehensive review of the ipod hifi. Now you can make some sort of informed opinion instead of judging a book by its cover !!!

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.ilounge.com/index.php/reviews/comments/ipod-hi-fi-high-fidelity-speaker-system-for-ipod/" target="_newWindow">http://www.ilounge.com/index.php/reviews/comments/ipod-hi-fi-high-fidelity-speaker-system-for-ipod/</a>
Posted by MaceoParker (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Airport Express
I use my computer and listen to music through my surround sound system using my airport express. Great sound, no need for a new system.
Posted by cschachter (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Where's my iBook!?
While this "toaster" stereo ipod thing is interesting I just want to
point out a few things. The current power pc iBook is nearly 230
days old. In fact we could have waited for a new Mac Mini. I'm sure
there are a lot of consumers like me who want to replace their
aging iBooks but can't cause Apple wants to waste time with
making stereos for college kids who can't afford or care about an
ipod stereo. WHERE IS MY INTEL IBOOK!??? ***?
Posted by Lanes Merge (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The PowerBook rules
As someone who has always had PowerBooks (dating back to the
165c) I'm glad they did the PowerBook G4 upgrade first. I think of
the iBook as a pestering little brother who should wait his turn.
Posted by J.G. (837 comments )
Link Flag
PC MAG GIVES Hi PRAISE FOR Hi Fi
PC MAGAZINE EDITOR'S CHOICE FOR NEW APPLE iPOD HI-FI SPEAKER ARTICLE.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1895,1933838,00.asp" target="_newWindow">http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1895,1933838,00.asp</a>
Posted by Llib Setag (951 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Freedom Of Choice People
Apple iPod Hi Fi Speaker is just a great NEW option for the consumer to choose from.

Bose/Harmon Karden/Bang+Olefson/ etc, etc, make excellant iPod Speaker systems as well.

You can still just plug your iPod into your Stereo or TV Sound Surround Sound System if you wish, Apple is not stopping you from just doing that. Just plug it into your Mac or PC sound system &#38; enjoy your iTunes or CDs on your iPod as well.

The iPod has mor options of choice from major vendors than ANY other MP3 player on the market hands down.

Settle down, have fun, and enjoy your freedom of choice.
Posted by Llib Setag (951 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Buy refurbished apple iPpod and save!
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.analogstereo.com/refurbished_apple_ipod.htm" target="_newWindow">http://www.analogstereo.com/refurbished_apple_ipod.htm</a>
Posted by Ipod Apple (152 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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