JVC XS-SR iPod Speaker System First Look
- Product Name: JVC XS-SR
- Manufacturer: JVC
- Review Date: December 28, 2009 02:35
- MSRP: $149.95
- First Impression: Mildly Interesting
You can't swing a dead cat these days and not hit either an iPhone app or a device that streams Netflix. Plenty of manufacturers are jumping on the iPod boat and releasing devices that work with the ubiquitous audio player. With the introduction of video and the iPhone, we've seen more and more people squinting at smaller and smaller screens to watch their favorite big budget action flicks. Sure, most of the time they are using headphones but what if you don't want to? What if you want to hear Michael Bay's most recent magnum opus in all of its highly compressed, dialogue deficient, highly explosive glory with someone else? Well, headphones won't do it - unless you have a splitter - especially if you want to share all that lens flare with a friend.
JVC may just have what you need with the new XS-SR iPod Speaker System. You may be wondering why you should care about yet another iPod system. Well, if you already have one you might not. But the XS-SR is fairly affordable at just south of $150 plus it has a couple of features you may like.
First, the aesthetics of unit is a large departure from the normal black box approach of the competition (that being said, it isn't quite as extreme as the "shoe polisher" look of the B&W Zeppelin - it's also a fraction of the price). The JVC XS-SR has sleek lines and a high gloss black finish. The two speakers protrude out to the sides of a seemingly floating iPod. The tubes that the speakers are mounted in are curved and highly stylized. On the round base are a number of controls though the unit can be controlled via remote.
The XS-SR doesn't stop there, however, and has four different clips for selected iPod models. Plus it allows up to two additional inputs. There is a digital optical and an analogue RCA style input for external sources. If you're trying to come up with other sources you might mate this product with and are coming up empty, we're with you. The only thing we've ever mated with a product like this is an iPod or MP3 system and that is already built in so... maybe a Zune?
One thing you'll notice (if you zoom in) is that there is a toggle button for surround mode 1 or 2 plus a surround off button. While it would be ultimately cool if the JVC transformed into a full 5.1 system (though it would be even cooler if Megan Fox popped out as well - a feature about as likely as a geek like Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf's character) landing an uber hottie like Fox, it is not to be. The XS-SR does sport Dolby Virtual Surround which is the next best thing. Well, not really but it's better than nothing.
Dolby Virtual Surround, according to the manufacturer, takes any high quality two channel or 5.1 source and reproduces it over two speakers. While we may have to take exception with the assertion that an iPod is a "high quality" source, it can be. Even if most people don't use it as such (since the measure of any iPod is how many songs you can get on it even if you have to compress all the dynamic range and realism right out of them to do so). The question we have is how close to the speakers you need to be in order for the Vitural Surround to work. Or, more importantly, how close is too close?
Because the JVC has one more trick up its sleeve. While other iPod/iPhone docks limit themselves to music or, at best, allow output to display, the XS-SR will let you mount your iPhone/iPod horizontally for widescreen viewing of video on the device's screen. So, as long as Dolby Virtual Surround works when you are very close to the speakers (as you will be in order to see the screen), you may be in for an interesting movie experience. Better yet, if Virtual Surround works better close up (those 5 watts may not pump out too much volume before distorting and Bay's movies can be taxing on the low end), you're golden.
While this product certainly has a lot of profession office appeal (we wouldn't mind having one in our cubical), we could definitely see this solution in dorm rooms where students, after torrenting episodes of their favorite shows/pirated movies, huddle around the little screen like primitive cavemen around a fire. It forces you to sit close together - great for a cheap (really, REALLY cheap) date but maybe not so much if your roommate has chronic halitosis. The price is right for that group, for sure, and really, they'd be learning a valuable life lesson about saving money for a real display. And isn't that what college is all about?