i-Station Traveller for iPhone Review

Here’s the good news – the i-Station Traveller for iPhone is a lot better in the flesh than it looks in pictures. In theory it’s a bit of a worry – the slidey design looks like an accident waiting to happen, and overall the unit looks terribly flimsy.

We’re happy to report though, that once you get the unit in your hands, it’s pretty sturdy. Made of tough black plastic, the i-Station Traveller slides open horizontally so you can place your iPod in the middle – just grab each end of the closed speakers and give it a yank. It’s a mechanism that looks like a recipe for disaster, but it doesn’t feel precarious at all. The battery compartment is neatly located under the slider bar, so when it’s closed up in transit there’s no chance the batteries will fall out.

Slide away
However, the sliding design may pass the robustness test, and it’s quite fun, but it’s not the best once the iPhone or iPod comes into play. There’s a slot on each speaker to allow something iPhone-shaped to sit between them. However, it’s a pretty big slot – there’s nothing to hold it in – it just sits there loosely. The idea is that you then close the speakers as far as they’ll go to hold the iPhone in place – in the case of the iPhone, the speakers close so that just the screen is visible between them. It’s still not held securely though.

There’s no way it’ll fall out unless you turn the unit upside-down, but when we’re used to iPod docking stations on most accessories these days, the i-Station Traveller seems a bit haphazard.

Indeed, there’s no docking port at all for your iPod or iPhone’s 30-pin socket – instead, you connect the iPhone via its headphone socket. The i-Station Traveller uses a standard 3.5mm plug to input an audio source. On the one hand, this gives the speaker set flexibility – you can plug any music device that has a 3.5mm socket. It also comes with a 2.5mm headphone adaptor, so you can use it with some mobile phones.

But this set-up has disadvantages too – the iPod or iPhone’s dock connector would give better sound quality than the headphone adaptor (although with 4W of power you might not notice that much difference). The other issue is another one of tidiness. In transit, the wire that attaches devices to the speakers tidies away into a groove on the back, but in use the lead trails about. An unsightly wire isn’t a big deal, it just seems like a design oversight that there’s nowhere for it to go.

The other problem with docking the iPhone in this way is no fault of Logic3 as such, but it’s still annoying. The iPhone plays video in landscape orientation, but it only works by turning the screen anti-clockwise – turn it clockwise and you’ll be watching YouTube upside-down. Unfortunately, this places the volume switch on the left hand side of the iPhone at the bottom – completely inaccessible when it’s placed on the i-Station Traveller’s sliding arm. Thus you have to use the screen-based volume control, which is annoying when you’re watching something on the screen.

The slider also covers up the home button on the iPhone and iPod touch, so you’ll have to remove it from its stand to turn it on or off.

But these gripes are all pretty minor. Ultimately, the i-Station Traveller for iPhone offers a half decent, portable speaker system for £29.99. It’s ideal for taking on holiday, as it’s fine for a hotel room, and at that price it wouldn’t be the end of the world if you took it to the beach and got it covered in sand.

OUR VERDICT

The best thing about Logic3’s I-Station Traveller for iPhone is its flexibility – it’ll output audio from anything with a 3.5mm socket, and with the included adaptor you can even use 2.5mm sources, such as some mobile phones. The problems with using it to watch video are more to do with the ergonomics of staring at such a small screen than with the unit itself, and while it has some design flaws, at £29.99 it’s a good option for the traveller on a budget.

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