Review: iLive IS108B Travel Speaker

Small, portable set of speakers for iPod that folds for transport. (December 21st, 2009)

The portable iLive IS108B Travel Speaker with Dock for iPod is a small, portable set of speakers for your iPod. The speaker sounds fairly good, except it seems to lack much bass response.

Electronista Rating:

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Product Manufacturer: iLive, Div of DPI, Inc.

Price: $49.99 US

The Good

  • Inexpensive, small, light.
    Works with a wide variety of iPods.
    Puts out quite a bit of sound.

The Bad

  • Sound lacks bass response.
    Does not support the iPhone.
    Adjusting the volume is imprecise.
    Feels flimsy.
    The clock seems to be an afterthought.
    iPod dock adapters hard to change.

The portable iLive IS108B Travel Speaker with Dock for iPod is a small, portable set of speakers for your iPod. The IS108B folds up into a small package so that it is easy to pack into a backpack or a suitcase.

My wife and I always toss a set of travel speakers in our suitcases when we travel, so that no matter where we end up, we can listen to our music together. The iLive IS108B when folded up, is about the size of a trade paperback book, which is about 6 x 9 x 1 1/2 inches, plus the included AC adapter. It is powered by either AC or by 4 AA batteries. The light plastic used in the IS108B makes it thin and easy to tote around, but gives it a somewhat flimsy feeling; I'm not sure how well it would deal with being inside a piece of checked luggage, unless you pack it securely.

is108b-foldedpower.jpg


iLive IS108b with iPod and Power Supply


The speaker sounds fairly good, except it seems to lack much bass response. For example, I played Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side" and Trans-Siberian Orchestra's "Toccata - Carpimus Noctem," and the low notes were there, but not as prominent as they should have been. The IS108B does not have separate bass/treble controls, so you can't compensate for their lack of full sound. You can set the EQ on the iPod to "Bass Booster," which helps. If you want powerful sound, this little system will not disappoint you, because it has a built-in amplifier. It puts out a surprisingly large amount sound for such a small speaker.

is108b-folded.jpg


iLive IS108b Ready to Travel


There are only two controls available: power and a volume slider. The recessed volume slider makes it a bit difficult to make small adjustments to the volume. Like many docks, the IS108B does not pay attention to the volume setting on the iPod.

IS108b-inuse.jpg


iLive IS108b In Action


Each iPod has different dimensions, which makes fitting them all into a single dock problematic. Like other dock makers, iLive includes a set of brackets that snap into the bottom of the dock and match up with the bottoms of various iPods. The IS108B comes with seven different brackets, and a sheet of paper showing which bracket to use for each model of iPod. If you have more than one iPod, you should be careful, because once you have snapped a bracket into place, you cannot easily remove it and install a different one. I tried it with a first-gen iPod nano, an 80GB video iPod, and an iPhone 3G. The IS108B connected easily and charged them all. If you want to connect another device, it also has audio line input and output mini-phono 3.5mm ports.

The IS108B claims it does not support the iPhone. If you plug an iPhone into the IS108B, you get a warning from the iPhone that "This accessory is not made to work with iPhone," and another warning about audio interference. I heard some minor static, but nothing major, and the IS108B does charge the iPhone and play music from the phone without further complaint.

The front clock display can be set using a pair of buttons underneath the dock connector. You can set both the date and the time, but as far as I can tell, the display only shows the time. The manual mentions "alarm times," but I can see no way to set an alarm. Setting the date and time is awkward; you have to turn the unit upside-down. It would be much more convenient if the display could take the date and time from the iPod.

The iLive IS108B Travel Speakers is light, easy to transport, and inexpensive, but the sound, lack of iPhone support, and plastic construction put it in the use at your own risk category.

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