ORB mStation iPod Speaker

Orb iPod Speaker and Docking Station
Company: mStation

Price: $130 US

Orb is round, colorful, versatile, and at 8″ in diameter is a bit smaller than a bowling ball (but a bowling ball is a lot heavier). Orb is available in blue, red, pink, green, silver, black, and white. This 30 watt stereo “2.1” speaker is sold on the company web site, or at RCS Experience, J&R, B&H, and CompUSA. Here is a full product description with specifications, plus a photo gallery and some prior reviews.

mStation provided a bright green Orb for our evaluation. The unit ships with six different docking inserts for all current iPod models except the latest Gen 3 iPod “video” nano, but G3nano is so small it will work in one or more of the included inserts. Both my prehistoric third generation “four button” 30GB iPod and my brand new 80GB iPod Classic work as expected in Orb’s north pole dock, but be aware that iPods prior to fourth generation have had problems with competing dock/speaker systems.

Let’s parse mStation’s promotional description to evaluate its accuracy:

“The Orb boasts superior sound in a funky iPod docking station.”

Funky is less accurate than “well-rounded,” or “spherical,” or “highly original,” but I won’t argue that point. Superior sound is subjective. Orb has good sound, especially in the bass register, but treble is less than brilliant. There is a general lack of transparency to the audio output, which may not bother mStation’s target audience for this item. For a $130 price I would expect somewhat better spaciality and presence to the sound.

“This sleek and stylish ‘Made for iPod’ desktop docking station/ speaker system packs a powerful sound that only a dedicated subwoofer can produce.”

It’s sleek and stylish, and certainly was developed and constructed primarily for iPods. Orb is definitely a viable desktop dock + speaker. Sound is powerful when volume level is high, and the built-in subwoofer takes good advantage of Orb’s round shape.

“The Orb comes with a handy 10 Key remote that allows you to adjust the bass and treble.”

I like the remote. It’s large and easy to use. Treble adjustments are evident, but not overwhelming. Again, I would prefer some sort of tweeter or crossover for high-end clarity, but that would place the retail price of Orb beyond the reach of most potential buyers (and their parents).

“The Orb has an award-winning design and looks exactly as the name would suggest. It comes in five vibrant colors.”

Design is very clever. Colors are extremely vibrant.

Not listed in the promotional description are several extra-nice attributes that elevate Orb beyond being a teeny-bopper bedroom novelty attraction. (Are kids still called teeny-boppers? If not, please clue me in.)

• Both USB and FireWire ports, for syncing all new and older iPods. FireWire iPods have been all but forgotten by Apple and most aftermarket manufacturers.

• An excellent written manual. Descriptions and graphics are well-presented and accurate. The manual can also be downloaded from company web page.

• Orb makes a strong visual statement. Your eye is immediately drawn to it, and a “Whazzat?” bursts from your mouth upon seeing it.

• Form + function meet substance + style. Very many mostly youthful iPodders care about how something looks a lot more more than how it is engineered.

• Thirty day money back guarantee. That’s impressive, and gutsy.

mStation spared no expense with Orb’s clever, qualitiative design and construction. When you open its package you are greeted with an innovative product that should deliver reliable audio and docking for years to come. Non-iPod playback is easy using the included auxiliary audio port and cable (or a much longer cable, from Radio Shack, for example). I have a hunch that my gripes about audio presence won’t be deterrants for the bulk of Orb’s buyers and users.

Retail pricing for Orb is competitive for this class of speaker + universal dock at $130. When colorful appearance and maximum versatility are your primary criteria, you’ll navigate to mStations’s Orb, which MyMac.com rates at a strong 3.5 out of 5.

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