Company: Griffin Technology

Price: $39.99

First off, I’m impressed with the speed at which Griffin has been pumping out products to support the iPod. Several of their recent offerings have already been reviewed on this website or given away for contests on the weekly MyMac.com podcast. So, of course, I wasn’t surprised to see the press release for the TuneBox, a portable speaker/charger for the iPod shuffle.

When I first saw the TuneBox, I was reminded of the little speakers that attached to my old Sony Walkman I used to have in my college dorm. Those little box speakers were never going to blow the windows out, but I could at least listen to and share my music with my friends without putting out a wad of cash for a boombox or stereo system I couldn’t afford. The TuneBox fills this same niche.

The TuneBox base unit measures roughly 4” high x 2.5” deep x 4.5” wide and has an opening between the mini twin tower speakers that is just wide enough to hold your shuffle. There’s a USB connection in the base to charge the shuffle while you listen. A 3.5mm stereo jack cable and slim AC adapter also ship with the unit. The color, of course, is white, and when looked at head on, it resembles a white horseshoe with four silver and black eyes.

The TuneBox delivers the kind of sound you’d expect from something its size. I spent the first 15 to 20 minutes with the TuneBox on the table, listening at a distance of about 4 feet. The sound was slightly muffled at this range, but turning down the volume easily compensated for this.

I also took the unit out to my back patio and cranked it as loud as the little 1” speakers could handle. At a distance of about 75 feet away the music was still clearly discernable, and within about a 25-30 foot diameter the TuneBox would be more than adequate for an outdoor party (at a slightly lower volume, of course).

As I write this, I have the TuneBox placed on the opposite side of the room and am listening at a distance of about 10 feet. I find the sound quality best at this distance.

Although small and easy to use, the TuneBox does have a few drawbacks. The first drawback with the TuneBox was the weight (or lack thereof). Because the unit is so light, the user needs to rest their hand on top of one of the speakers or the iPod Shuffle to stabilize it while manipulating the shuffle controls.

Second, the portability of the TuneBox is limited by the users proximity to a 120V outlet. Providing the option for a battery backup would have added to the value and convenience of the unit, and may also add some heft to help address my first issue, above.

Finally, it would be nice if the TuneBox could double as a dock for your shuffle. You can charge your shuffle with the TuneBox, but you can’t change your shuffle song library.

Regardless of how you choose to use the TuneBox, the sound performance should meet the needs of anyone who wants a (relatively) portable solution to broadcast their iPod Shuffle playlist. Keep in mind, if your looking for something to pump out the base and shake the windows, or play your shuffle while out on your next camping trip, the TuneBox may not offer the solution you’re seeking.

With the few exceptions noted above, I felt that the Griffin TuneBox delivers excellent sound for its $39.99 value.

MyMac.com rating: 3.5 out of 5.0.

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