High-Styling High Fi-ing

There are cool products, and then there are cool products. While not quite living up to Bang & Olufsen's uber-cool status, some of the new "StyleFi" gadgets from Oregon Scientific certainly fall under the pretty-darn-cool category.

In marketing-speak, Oregon Scientific says that StyleFi "marks an exciting new dimension in listening pleasure by making music both aesthetically functional and stunning to the senses." StyleFi's "modern curves and sexy silhouettes enhance every product's high performance capabilities giving music lovers everywhere a truly one-of-a-kind experience every time." They could have just shown the pictures.

The Music Element 2.1 CD Micro System comes with two dramatically attractive satellite speakers that use NXT SurfaceSound speaker technology. Each magnetically shielded speaker is housed in a solid-aluminum frame and is designed to sit on a tabletop or mount on a wall. The system includes a high-gloss black and polished aluminum master unit and a subwoofer. The stylish master unit incorporates a see-through, motorized top-loading CD player that supports playback of MP3, WMA, CDDA, CD-R, and CD-RW discs. In addition to an integrated AM/FM digital tuner with 40 presets, the master unit includes adjustable sound and equalizer effects. Total amplifier power is 55 watts. The system is scheduled to be available this month for $349.

For those who like to listen to music at home and away, Oregon Scientific is introducing the Music Orbit + Music Station. The combination product includes a portable CD (MP3/WMA/CD-R/W) player (the "Music Orbit") and a sedentary speaker/docking unit (the "Music Station"). The Music Orbit comes with rechargeable batteries and features 120-second anti-shock circuitry as well as a 5-band equalizer. The cylindrical design Music Station acts as a speaker/docking unit for the Music Orbit that recharges the portable as well as controls playback when docked. The Music Station can also function on its own due to a built-in AM/FM tuner. Figure on leaving $229 behind in order to walk away with the combo.

Oregon Scientific's Music Sphere is an ultra-portable wireless remote speaker system capable of playing audio from up to three different sources. The sphere encloses two tweeters and a "full-range driver" that's ported through an acoustic chamber. Audio is transmitted digitally using a 2.4 GHz frequency from the source transceiver to the spherical speaker system which can be located up to 100 feet away. The speaker system is light enough to be mounted on the wall and will also work as a wireless remote control repeater system. The main sphere's LCD display shows clock, volume, bass and treble, input selection, and battery level in addition to changing color depending on the audio source selected. The $249 price, however, does not change color.

A similar spherical product, the iBall, is a three-way wireless remote speaker system designed to receive audio from an Apple iPod (seven iPod adapters are included with the iBall). The system has a built-in remote control that allows the listener to control an iPod directly from the wireless speaker itself. Users can choose between AC or battery operation. (Six C-cell rechargeable batteries - providing six to eight hours of running time - are included as is the AC adapter.) The iBall Transmitter Dock charges the iPod and synchronizes with iTunes via USB or Firewire connections on the user's Mac or PC. An auxiliary stereo line-in mini plug accepts audio from an additional source. Look for the iBall sometime this month for $299.

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