iPod Unleashed

ViewSonic PJ258D DLP projector with integrated iPod dock

January 11, 2007 - What would a Consumer Electronics Show be without a ton of cool new iPod peripherals? Fortunately, that's a question we won't have to answer, as this CES featured a variety of innovative products made especially for your favorite portable. The common theme of most Pod accessories was to get the Pod off your hip and out of your pocket, making its content available in bigger and better ways.

One of the boldest partnerships was ViewSonic's PJ258D DLP projector ($999, available first quarter) with an integrated iPod dock. This takes the video on your Pod to the big leagues, by projecting your photos or video files to life-size, 1,024 x 768 proportions. For those times when you don't want to watch your latest video Podcasts, the projector also has S-Video and VGA inputs.

Altec Lansing does iPod video on a slightly smaller scale with its iMV712 ($349, available late spring). Video and photos stored on your Pod are displayed on its 8.5-inch widescreen LCD, and sound is surprisingly rich from the small speakers and 4-inch side-firing "subs." Disappointingly, the screen does not display the iPod's music menus or cover art, so you can't have everything.

Escient demonstrated its finalized FP-1 ($599, available now), bringing the company's terrific on-screen interface to the iPod. Once your Pod is docked, the FP-1 automatically indexes all of the music and goes to the Web to retrieve cover art. Besides supplying the on-screen interface, the FP-1 lets you navigate your music from any Web-enabled device. If you already own an Escient FireBall music server, the FP-1 seamlessly integrates your iPod's music with the rest of your collection and acts as another zone player for your existing system.

Several companies finally stumbled onto the brilliant idea that iPods are portable and that portable means no wires. I ran across several systems that let you place your Pod where you want and still keep in touch with your tunes wirelessly. Silex Technology's wiDock ($149, available now) lets you sync with iTunes via 802.11g Wi-Fi, making sure that your Pod is always loaded with your latest tunes and videos. The dock also has A/V outputs to connect to a local system.

Klipsch's new RoomGroove ($349, available in April) is part of the new KlipschCast line and can be used standalone or as the basis of a wireless housewide audio distribution system. The RoomGroove features dual 2.5-inch woofers and a discreet tray that slides open at your touch to reveal an iPod docking bay. (An aux makes it compatible with other portables or sources as well.) The RoomGrove transmits as well as receives, so you can either tune into your Pod or check out what the rest of the family is listening to.

Soundcast Systems claims interference-free reception and a range up to 350 feet. That is perfect when you want to use the company's iCast ($250) to broadcast your Pod tunes to its OutCast ($699, available mid-year) speaker, designed to provide music in the great outdoors. The OutCast includes a 100-watt digital amplifier driving an 8-inch woofer and four tweeters and is said to run as long as 10 hours on the built-in rechargeable battery pack.

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