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We've recently looked at and been impressed by Klipsch's latest line of earphones, which include the lightweight single driver Images and the dual driver Custom-3s. Indeed, if you have an iPod either of these sets will be a great choice for music on the move. However, when it comes to listening at home earphones are hardly the most practical or comfortable way of doing so. For that you'll be wanting a loud speaker system like an iPod dock, or a Hi-Fi, which is where the Klipsch iGroove SXT comes in.
This compact iPod dock features, well, very little really. Like most iPod docks it contains a set of speakers, an amplifier, the docking mechanism, a video output, an extra line-in socket for plugging in an alternative audio source, and a basic remote for controlling the whole lot. It's the same with 90 per cent of these sorts of devices and it's no surprise to see Klipsch sticking rigidly to the formula. What then separates the likes of the B&W Zeppelin from the Bose SoundDock Portable is all the little (and some not so little) details.
Starting with the most obvious of these, the looks of the iGroove are certainly more on the budget end of the scale. The chassis is made from rather cheap looking, and feeling, grey plastic that has a few silver painted highlights to try and stave off the otherwise mundane feeling - it hasn't worked. The whole thing is also a little bit rough around the edges, literally, with moulding seams and edges being left unfinished. It really is a tad disappointing considering Klipsch is a company we would normally expect good things from, even considering the price.
On the plus side, while nothing particularly inspiring, the actual styling is rather nice especially once an iPod is in situ. The gentle sweeping curve of the front and slightly reclined stance both draws the eye to the iPod and lends the iGroove an unobtrusive casual air. Essentially, this isn't a fashion item but neither is it going to let down your décor, no matter how obscure.
Next we come to the dock mechanism itself, which means we unfortunately have to don our negative caps again. The iGroove uses the standard iPod dock design which employs a plastic insert to hold the iPod steady on the plug, preventing it causing undue stress to the connection. The problem being that with every different type of iPod you need a different plastic insert so you end up with half a dozen of the things to keep hold of or, more to the point, lose.
Ok, it's no worse than many alternatives and it's arguably unlikely you'd need to change the insert very often but ever since seeing the ingenious universal iPod docks used on the Bowers and Wilkins Zeppelin and the Fatman iTube ValveDock, every other dock we see that uses these plastic inserts just seems ill conceived and clunky. Again, though, you're unlikely to find a better alternative for the price.
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