Small stereo for your iPod with all the trimmings. (February 19th, 2008)
Product Manufacturer: Boynq
Price: $99.99 US
- Good volume without distortion. Ships with all the needed cables. Lightweight. Black and gray Sabre looks nice.
- Sound range is not as full as advertised. Does not run on batteries. No remote. Markings on buttons hard to read. Pink and gray Sabre is unappealing.
Boynq designs interesting and innovative products, but their marketing is a bit of a mystery. While people work at blurring the lines of sex, race, and other forms of discrimination, Boynq dives right in to the ring. All of their marketing specifies products Pour Homme and Pour Femme, which simply means for men and for women. The black products sit on the men's pages, while their pink products grace the women's pages, and I think it is poorly considered. Click on Pour Femme under products, and click the philosophy link to read a note from Your King, which is a weak bit on their marketing to women. One word: Regrettable.
Why this is such a thorn for me is that first, I hate the color pink. Second, their pink choice is vaguely reminiscent of a rosy purplish color, a bit lighter, but similar to the Pantone color 15-1614, called Blush, or Pink Lavender (Pantone 2007-56C0), depending on the lighting in your room and your computer monitor. I have a mixed environment of florescent and normal bulbs, so no color seems to match exactly. On the Boynq site, the Sabre Pour Femme looks purple on my monitor. Third, the implied sexism on the site is inexcusable in this day and age.
A Closer LookThe Sabre is a lightweight iPod stereo speaker that weighs only 1.63 pounds, so it's very portable, but does not have a battery compartment. It looks a bit like an unrolled tube of paper, with the dock sitting on the front flap. Six dock inserts accommodate all iPods with a Dock port. Four buttons also grace the front. The Power button lights up brightly when the unit is on. The other three buttons control the volume, treble, and bass. The little dot that marks the position of the knob is very difficult to see unless you're very close to the unit.
A shiny metal grill covers the stereo 10W speakers with 3" full range drivers. It looks like aluminum, but no further information is available. The speakers aim the sound to the right and left, but deliver full sound nicely. Stereo sound is separated nicely with a good effect.
The back of the Sabre sports stereo line-in, stereo line-out, S-video, and iPod connector ports, so you can conveniently hook it up to most everything. The Sabre ships with a Line-in cable, Line-out cable, and an S-video cable, which makes it a convenient package for an iPod novice or as a present. The power adapter's space-saving design allows you to plug it into any outlet or strip without blocking other outlets.
Speakers and SoundThe sound produced by the Sabre isn't bad, but there's a noticeable difference in quality between uncompressed music and MP3s. I have a wide variety of MP3 music compressed at 128, 192, and 256 Bit Rates, and the lower the Bit Rate, the more muddy the music sounded. I set the treble and bass at the midpoint to test out different music and the high ranges of harmonic, violin, and other potentially grating sounds were reproduced well. While the specifications state the Sabre can reproduce sound in the frequency range 20Hz to 20KHz, I found that it did not reproduce my test suite of music, on the lowest or highest ends. It starts to cut out around 30Hz and 17KHz, which is fine for most ears. The test suite used is prepared square waves tones based on the pitch A from 20Hz to 20KHz. On the positive side, you can pump up the volume with little to no distortion.
The music benefited from tweaking the bass and treble controls, but you may want to make sure that your playlists contain similarly compressed music, so you only have to make adjustments once per playlist. Boynq is aware of the importance of setting your tone controls and thoughtfully includes an Equalizer Card with suggested settings for rock, pop, lounge, dance, R&B, and jazz music. The settings are well thought out. While they might have tarnished the clean design, I think tick marks for the tone controls would have made sense.
Form Over FunctionI did have some trouble with the dock connection. My iPod video didn't seem to dock securely, even though I used the correct insert. I had to jiggle it a bit to seat it well. This wouldn't be a concern, except that there is no remote, so every time I changed playlists or songs, I had to check to make sure the iPod was seated correctly.
If the Sabre shipped alone it would be overpriced; but Boynq includes all the cables, which adds value. If you don't need the included cables, you may want to seek out a slightly less expensive system.
Feb. 20, 2008: After testing another iPod stereo today and thinking hard and long, I decided to boost the Sabre's rating from 3 to 3.5. It is not without its problems, but it has features many desktop iPod stereos in the same price range do not have. It still needs a remote, better dock inserts, and new colors.