Oregon's AirPort Express rival rolls into town

If we had a penny for every iPod speaker dock we see at Stuff, we'd have enough pounds to buy Steve Jobs' house. So it was with trepidation and a se

If we had a penny for every iPod speaker dock we see at Stuff, we'd have enough pounds to buy Steve Jobs' house.

So it was with trepidation and a sense of Groundhog Day that we carressed Oregon Scientific's iBall when it rolled through the Stuff doorway like a white extra out of that 80s' sci-fi classic, Critters. There is, however, one key difference between this sphere and its rivals: it's wireless.

See, the iBall actually consists - if you're excuse us for adopting iParlance - of an iSpeaker and an iDock. Plug the dock into your computer and while you're syncing Kate Bush's new album to your Pod, you can stream Green Day to the 8in speaker in another room.

Oregon has thoughtfully included an aux-in, so you could also plug your Mac or PC in and make the iBall into a genuine - albeit more expensive - Airport Express alternative

How's it work? Not, as we first suspected, by magic but the old joys of RF, like a baby monitor. Apparently the iBall's perfectly at home with a gadgeteer's house filled with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and DECT signals, though we'd revise Oregon's quoted 100 foot range down to a more realistic 20-30 in your typical pad.

The non-groundbreaking features of the iBall command respect, too. There's a screen on the speaker which you can use to pause, skip songs and change the volume - you can't see track lists - and the 6 hour battery life makes it a worthy contender for hotel and impromptu boombox when not pumping music back home. Clutter-fearing minimalists can wall-mount it by buying a bracket.

You can get iBall for that shiny new iPod - and Minis and Shuffles - for £200. One caveat worth noting: the Shuffle doesn't work with the speaker's controls and it won't sync while docked either.

www.oregonscientific.co.uk

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