Over the weekend, I put the ballyhooed Griffin Evolve through the paces. As you know, this system has wireless speakers with their own rechargeable batteries. When they sit on the dock, they charge, but when you want them in the dining room or out on the deck, you just grab them—and the RF remote—and enjoy your tunes. Here are the questions you might have, and my no-BS answers:
• How long do the speakers last when they are away from their dock?
In my test, they ran for over 13 hours, nearly 14 actually. I had both speakers about 20+ feet away from the source, in my combo kitchen/dining room, where we could enjoy music while preparing dinner (linguini with Batali-style clam sauce and Sicilian broccoli, plus homemade creme brulee for dessert) and eating it.
• How far can the speakers be from the base and still make sound?
Griffin says 150 feet, and I think that's probably right. It uses
433MHz 900MHz RF, and I was able to carry them pretty far on two separate occasions, and even when I started to lose signal, I could stand still and the signal would smooth out. I think the real answer is: they go as far as you're going to need them to. Best of all, the iPod-controlling remote which uses 433MHz RF works at that range too, so they can follow the speakers to the ends of the earth your property. See me way out in the yard, while the dock is safely inside:
• What's the deal with the video outputs? (UPDATED)
There are both S-Video out and composite out. They work with older video-enabled iPods, but not with iPod classics, nanos or touches (or iPhones, for that matter). You don't get much quality from those connections, so you should really aim for small-screen viewing. The wireless is still a convenience, however: if you don't connect the audio output to a TV, you can still hear everything through the speakers. And guess what? There's no annoying out-of-sync latency issue that I can detect.
• So what's the problem?
Sound quality, sound quality, sound quality. Don't get me wrong: For a wireless system, these sound damn good, way better than the Bluetooth stuff I've heard from the likes of Logitech and Belkin, and even Radio Shack's smart Accurian powerline setup. But compared to other docks, there's a lot of high end and not a lot of mids or lows. If you have it turned down too low, it gets tinny, and there's no real satisfying way to enjoy rap music on it.
The bottom line is this: I was blown away by this product as a super-simple zero-setup way to get background sound to places where it matters the most, like the dining room or the patio. Seriously, I will probably buy one of these for just those reasons, even at $300. But when I'm all alone and want to rock out, I would need to seek an alternate source of sonic satisfaction, cuz I won't get it from the Evolve. [Griffin Evolve]
Oh, and special thanks to my dad for the two shots that I'm in.