Review: Arcam rCube Page 2

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SETUP

Unboxing the rCube, you're presented with a near-featureless black cube with silver binding, wrapped around its perimeter in fabric - sort of a future-retro approach. Fit and finish are excellent (as you'd expect from Arcam). The top surface is lacquered black, nicely matching (natch) Apple's iOS products (a white version of the rCube is now available, of course). A flip-up panel exposes the docking connector, and doubles as a carrying handle. A strip on the lower rear panel includes a 1/8" stereo aux-in jack, component and composite video outs, a USB port (for firmware upgrades only) and a bass filter switch. also received the rWand and rWave Kleer wireless dongles (for iOS devices and USB, respectively).

The control panel's minimalism doesn't quite compete with Apple's single-button approach, but Arcam does manage to cram a lot into a glassy strip of five touch-sensitive buttons: source select, wireless on/off, volume up and down, and standby (in typical British fashion there's a rear-panel mains power switch). There's no tactile feedback, but multicolored LEDs do a good job of telling you what's going on, and you can easily accomplish all setup and control of the device via this panel (more functions - including iPod/iPhone music app transport controls - are broken out further on the included IR remote)

Initial setup couldn't have been easier; I started unpacking the unit while I was folding laundry, intending to actually get it working sometime later in the day, but by the time I had the laundry done, I had the rCube working on its own and wirelessly with a MacBook; it took me another minute or two to connect the rCube to a TV.

I ran into a bit of a snag while trying to get the Cube to pair with the rWand iPod dongle - the wording of the (otherwise very clear) instruction booklet seems to understate just how long the Wand's "Associate" button needs to be held before it begins its search for the rCube. The process happened near-instantaneously with the rWave USB device (which I'd connected first), so I'd assumed it'd happen similarly. Waiting a little longer did the trick. (What I'd taken for "rapid" association-mode flashing was just the standby state - rapid means rapid.)

Video was very simple. I didn't receive the optional component breakout cable, so I hooked up the rCube via a composite cable to my TV and had no trouble outputting video; audio coming from the rCube remained in sync. For some reason the rCube made its British roots known here by resetting my iPod's video output to PAL; something to look out for if you notice anything odd.

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