Random Thoughts from TasT
The near perfect Ipod Companion
Published on June 4, 2006 By TasT In MP3 Players

After purchasing and using my 5G iPod for a few weeks it became apparent to me that I needed a set of external speakers for use at work and in my shop. I was hooked on having my entire music collection at my fingertips but felt tethered to the ear buds. Not knowing exactly what was out there I set my requirements. Simple I thought I needed a set of speakers that also came with a FM radio receiver so I could listen to sports talk radio and Baseball games.


The obvious choice would be the iBoom. I looked at it and was not impressed, so I set my sights on a quality boom box with a line in. This proved slim picking’s as there are only a few quality boom boxes out there and even fewer of them have a line in. The results of that search came up with a only a couple of high dollar units that were much to big to travel back and forth to work. At this point I decided to sit back and wait, surely something would come along. It did.


A few days later I was in Best Buy looking at NAS units and wondered down the alarm clock isle. There sitting in the shelf was a demo unit of the ShoqBox. Initially it was unimpressive at a little over 6 inches wide by 2 inches deep and less than 2 inches tall. I was intrigued though it had 2 titanium dome speakers, a FM tuner, line in and would definitely be portable. So I pressed the demo button; WOW the thing could produce high volume clear sound, and friends I do mean HIGH volume considering it’s size, ShoqBox is definitely the proper name for this device. I was impressed so I ordered one.


When it arrived I put it to work right away and it had preformed better than I expected. For $99.99 here’s what you get:


  • PSS110 ShoqBox

  • FM tuner

  • 256MB of RAM

  • 10 hour internal rechargeable battery

  • AC adapter

  • USB adapter

  • Line In cord

  • Antenna Cord

  • Storage case

  • Philips branded Music Match Juke Box light

  • Firmware update tool


Sound

This little thing will absolutely astound you with volume and clarity. It simply defies the rules about how big a speaker need to be to produce a high amount of volume and it does it with clarity and a more than fair amount of bass. Find one and listen you will be “Shoqed”


Battery Life

I have not put a stopwatch on it but I can say that I have had it playing continuously for close to 12 hours. In fact it always outlasts my iPod’s battery which is supposed to have 14 hours of life.


FM Tuner

I have been impressed with the quality of the FM Tuner. While at work I sit in the midst of a myriad of high voltage transformer and other power generating equipment that does quite the job of quashing radio signals even with several 100,000-Watt Mega stations in the area. The Shoq Box picks up stations that most of the boom box style radios that some of the guys have won’t even touch.


The only annoying thing about the FM tuner is the fact that you can’t just turn it on and tune in to a station. Each station has to be set as one of ten presets. Why?



Build Quality

This is no iPod it is a little heavy for it’s size and looks and feels to be built like a tank. I have not dropped it to test its tankness but I suspect it would take a fall better than my iPod or any other normal boom box.


Ease of use

To begin with there is a little learning curve. Once mastered it can be set up and adjusted easily and quickly. All the buttons have a nice tactile feel and the interface responds fairly quickly.


Extras

The PSS110 also includes an alarm clock that will wake you to stored music, the radio, or a buzzer. Other extras are a sleep timer and an auto shut off . I haven’t used any of the extras except the alarm clock and it works well but it baffles me that here is no snooze button.


Software and Internal Memory

I have used the firmware update utility and it is simple and easy to use. I have not however used the Music Match software or the internal memory. I have no need with The paltry 256MB of internal memory and an iPod to plug into the line in.


Conclusion

I use the ShoqBox for the radio and as speakers for my iPod and have loved it. I have become irritated though, if the Shoq Box had say 6 GB of storage and could use something other than Music Match it could replace my iPod at work. As it is though the 256MB is simply not enough for a unit such as this and the 512MB slightly bigger brother would really be no better. It’s sad that such an awesome piece of equipment is limited to such a small amount of storage.


If Philips would figure out how to put in a decent amount of storage, add a snooze function, allow me to just tune in a FM station and market the ShoqBox I would bet that it would be a big seller. Think about it a desktop music player with all feature of the Shoq Box and the storage capacity of a at least 6GB that you can grab and take to the beach. I’d buy one…


As it is now it’s a great set of speakers for your digital music player with the advantages of easy portability, a FM tuner and a long life battery at an attractive price when compared to the other offerings.


Links:

Philips USA

ShoqBox Product Page


Marketing Rant

It looks to me like the big companies would have figured this out. Apple has a 70+ percent market share because it markets the iPod. You see iPod TV commercials, magazine adds, Hell they probably pay Best Buy and Circuit City to Have the iPod listed in their weekly sale paper even though iPods are never on sale. (Apple Locks the Price. And no I don’t know why Wall-Mart can sell them a couple bucks cheaper must have something to do with quantity ordered?) The point is right now Phillips has an Awesome 6GB player and Creative has an Awesome 30GB player but they will never gain much market share with out a marketing push. As a business major and by dealing with my Fiancée’s Clothing Boutique I know that marketing makes money, you have to do it, it’s not a choice. Why do these companies not market their products aggressively?

Apple sells us a great sounding and easy to use player but feature wise the iPod lags behind the current competitors yet people still buy it. I admit it, I have one because of the easy access to accessories and compatibility with car stereo systems by Pioneer and Alpine. ( Yes I said Compatibility in the same sentence with an apple product.) Anyhow if one of the other companies would market their player aggressively instead of just trying to out feature the iPod there would be a market shift.

/end rant, I’ll save the rest for another day…


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