One of the great things about going to CES 2011 was getting to spend some time with the products we’ve told you about, but have never actually seen in person; it also gave us an opportunity to spend some time with the people behind these products. I’m especially grateful that I got to spend some time with the folks at Speakal. Why, you may ask? Because at first glance, one might assume that their line of iDevice speaker docks, with their cute shapes and colorful designs are more novelty than serious speaker–but assuming that would be wrong. Speakal is quite serious about sound–and after a quick listen at their booth, I was impressed enough to request a speaker dock of my own. Well, my iPig finally arrived and the moment of truth is here; would the iPig’s sound quality hold its own against more traditional speaker docks? Could a small farm animal possible pump out enough sound to fill a room? Would I feel comfortable enough to use this as a sound system in a room full of grown-ups? Read on, and find out why Speakal’s iPig will make you squeal with joy. Sorry, couldn’t resist…
Let’s start with the obvious: This thing is cute. Very Cute. In fact, you may be tempted to buy an iPig as a sound system for your kid’s room–which is fine; just realize that this isn’t a system that has to stay in your kid’s room. Your first clue as to the quality of this speaker dock comes as soon as you pick it up; it’s solid. (Yes…my first impression is usually based on a speaker’s weight) The iPig has some nice heft to it, and the quality of materials and construction is obvious; equally obvious is the thought that went into its design. The iPig is a 2.1 speaker system–meaning that you a have 2 separate channels for right and left audio, as well as a dedicated sub; what’s impressive is how Speakal managed their speaker placement and control scheme.
Though the 2 eyes are the iPig’s most obvious speakers, they are not its only speakers. The 2 front “eye” speakers are actually your midrange drivers, while your treble comes from 2 speakers that are cleverly hidden under the pig’s ears; in another clever design move, those 2 ears also function as touch-sensitive volume controls. Rounding out the collection of 5 speakers, the 15W sub is hidden under the device’s base. The back panel of the iPig offers an on/off switch. bass control, power supply input and a 3.5mm in–this last feature is important, as it allows the iPig to be used as an external speaker for many other devices, (MP3 player, computer, game console) greatly adding to its versatility. Because access to your iPod or iPhone is limited when docked, (Speakal includes several adapters to fit various iDevices) a wireless remote is also included. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised but not only how well the remote worked and its great range, but also by the amount of functions it gives its user. Along with the standard play/pause, track skipping, volume and standby buttons, you also get dedicated bass and treble controls, input selectors, mute button and an “Enter” key–basically, much more than your used to from your typical speaker dock remote.
The design is there, the features are in place and the cute factor is undeniable—but what about the sound? When I first powered-up the iPig and saw his little mouth give off its green glow, I was pretty impressed by how well it sounded…at low volume. As I started to crank the sound a bit, realized that not only was the rich sound staying true, it was also filling rooms behind as well as ahead of it. When the folks at Speakal told me they had used the iPig as the primary sound system for a few of their parties, I smiled and quietly assumed that they must throw some pretty small parties; nope–using iPig for my own party, it had no problem filling a large room filled with people, and more than a few guests were shocked when I showed them where all of the sound was coming from.
I’ll admit it–the iPig has caused some problems in my usually peaceful home; my daughter wants to keep it in her room to enjoy her “Big Time Rush” collection, my son is lobbying for it to be his main sound system, and my wife and I can’t agree whether it works better in the family room or the kitchen. The nice part is, iPig makes for a killer portable sound system, regardless of what room it ends up in. Now if I could only get the folks at Speakal to send us a few more–in the spirit of family unity, of course…..
The iPig retails for $129.99, but can be found for closer to $100 at most major online retailers.