The iPod was designed to be a personal audio device, so it’s amazing how many companies have come up with gadgets that integrate the little bugger into your hi-fi system. Xitel’s HiFi Link goes a step further than many, enabling you to output video as well as sound.
This renders the HiFi Link a particularly good companion for video iPods, but Xitel provides snap-in adapters so that every other model (except the Shuffle) will dock with it, too. The device comes with everything you need, including a power adapter for charging your iPod, an audio/video cable, and an infrared remote.
The HiFi Link delivers excellent audio quality, and bass lovers will appreciate the inclusion of SRS Labs’ TruBass. TruBass uses psychoacoustic principles to create the perception that a speaker is producing lower frequencies than it actually is. You turn a knob on the back of the unit to control the amount of bass boost, but audiophiles will appreciate the knob’s reassuring “click” that tells you the effect has been shut off.
Video quality was pretty good, especially considering that the iPod’s resolution is limited to 320x240 pixels, but we were disappointed that Xitel hobbled the device by including only composite video output. A better design would also feature S-video, where the chrominance and luminance elements remain discrete to deliver better image quality.
The remote echoes the iPod’s control wheel, but the rubbery buttons are as clunky as the iPod’s wheel is slick. Also, the remote offers only limited functionality: You can go back and forth between tracks and playlists; start, stop, and pause songs; and turn the iPod on and off, but you can’t drill down into the player’s nested menus. Blame Apple for this limitation; the user interface doesn’t output to the dock interface, so you can’t see it on your TV. The final shortcoming, however, can’t be so easily dismissed: The docking station lacks a USB port, so you can’t sync the iPod with your computer while it’s docked.
Month Reviewed: March 2006
+ NAKED HOUSEWIVES: Let's you watch your iPod videos on the big screen.
- DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES: Docking station lacks S-video and USB.