CES 2011 – Funky Speakers from Speakal Michael Kwan January 11, 2011 The guys at Speakal have always been on the quirkier side of things. They don’t seem all that interested in sending out generic black boxes for their iPod speaker docks and that tradition is continuing with some of the new products showcased at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. If you’re looking for a more creative way to share your iMusic with your iFriends when they’re over at your iHouse, then the fun folks at Speakal are a good place to turn. Even if you’ve got an alternative music source, most of these speakers will play friendly with devices other than those produced in Cupertino. Introducing the Bigger and Badder iHog You might remember such iPod speakers as the iBoo and iPanda from Speakal before. They gave you a way to dock your iPod and let the music come pouring through. Well, Speakal is doing much the same with the iHog. It’s a bigger version of the iPig and it’s also available in an iPanda-geared design too. The iHog is still a 2.1 stereo speaker system that will charge your iPod while it pumps out its music, but the larger size has come with a few significant upgrades. For starters, there are 40+ watts of total output on the iHog, compared to the 23+ watts you got from the smaller iPig. The 20-watt subwoofer is an improvement over the 15-watter found in the iPig too. Not surprisingly, this system can get quite loud. While it is made for the iPod and iPhone, it seems that the iHog might work with the iPad too, but I can’t say for certain. Another major feature is that there is a rechargeable lithium-ion battery inside that’ll provide for up to six hours of music away from a wall outlet. Top Gear Stig Speaker for Petrol Heads If you’re a fan of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James “Dr. Slow” May, then you’ll be instantly drawn to this particular contraption. Speakal has managed to secure an official license from the BBC, allowing them to create a Top Gear-themed speaker system. No, you don’t get the whole Stig, but you do get his characteristic helmet. Motion sensors are used to control volume and tracks. The darkened visor not only hides the Stig’s identity; it also hides the speakers found within. You’ll get 25+ watts of total output, including a built-in subwoofer. The digital amplifier and high quality acoustic accelerator help too. Some say that this could be the coolest iPod dock yet. Unfortunately, Speakal didn’t have an actual unit on hand at the show, so I could listen for Stig’s voice. I wonder what he’d think of our Honda CR-Z sport hybrid review some time back. Doctor Who Dalek and T.A.R.D.I.S. Speakers Too Maybe you’re less of a petrol head and more of a sci-fi junkie. If that’s the case and you happen to be a fan of Dr. Who, Speakal has that BBC property on hand too. Shown above is the iconic T.A.R.D.I.S. from the Doctor Who series. What’s cool is that it offers a few different options in terms of audio sources. It can connect to your preferred Bluetooth device for wireless streaming, it can do the conventional 3.5mm line-in jack for wired audio, or it can act as a universal dock for your iPhone or iPod. Depending on how you set it up, your iPhone can also be a universal remote control for the 27 watts of output. Now, I’m not as familiar with Doctor Who, but I do recognize the Dalek shown here too. It’s another speaker set, as you can imagine, but Speakal seems to be making use of the same kind of SurfaceSound technology (or something similar) used by the Tunebug Shake that I reviewed a short while ago. They only had the red model on display, but I’m thinking that some other colors and variants will come down the line should the Dalek-themed speaker make it to market. Stepping Outside the Music Box Some people seem to assume that the only kinds of iPod speaker systems you can get are in square or rectangular boxes. Speakal is bucking that trend, showing that you can get your musical enjoyment in a huge variety of shapes and sizes. Whether you like big pigs or racing helmets, you get your tunes. The sound quality won’t be Earth-shattering, more likely than not, but Speakal’s products always compete well against similarly-priced iPod speaker docks. Share This With The World!