capsule review

iSound Concert to Go

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At a Glance
  • dreamGEAR iSound Concert to Go

iSound's Concert to Go shares some sensibilities with the smaller iSound TimeTravel, yet if the TimeTravel is a study in miniature, the Concert to Go pushes the boundaries of what's truly portable. At 16.5" wide by 6" high by 6" deep, and powered bu 12 C-cell batteries (or AC power), calling this a truly mobile alarm clock is a stretch, despite its carrying handles.

The Concert to Go borrows design cues from Apple's iPod Hi-Fi, including the aforementioned side handles. Yet it doesn't have the same quality (or the same price tag). For example, the Concert to Go's handles have sharp edges, and the padding in the middle of the handles began to peel off on its first use. And like its smaller TimeTravel sibling, it's difficult to figure out exactly how to set the Concert to Go's clock without referring to the manual. The buttons on the top of the system also seem poorly made -- they feel cheap and are difficult to push.

Fortunately, the system's remote serves as its main input device. In addition to the standard play, pause, forward, and back buttons, the remote includes functions for setting the clock and alarm, a snooze button, and buttons for the sleep timer, bass and treble, volume, mute, and iPod menu navigation. I found navigating with the remote much easier and more straightforward than using the main buttons.

The alarm functions are fairly simple, but work well, and even show a degree of thoughtfulness. If you choose not to wake up to the iPod or radio, instead of just blasting you with a buzzer, the Concert to Go provides a nice "wake to music" feature that plays a simple melody akin to a polyphonic cell phone ring tone.

Another nice addition is the system's extensibility. A USB port in the back allows you to sync your iPod with your computer. An auxiliary-input port lets you hook up another audio device. A video-out port allows you to display videos and iPods from your iPod on a TV while audio plays through the Concert to Go's speakers. Like some of the "desktop" speaker systems we've tested, the Concert to Go can serve as a bridge to both your television and computer.

The system's 36-watt speakers pump out room-filling sound -- I clocked clear output at 110 decibels. Though the Concert to Go sounds nice overall, with resonant bass, it did exhibit some distortion on a few tracks at high volumes.

I also experienced some issues with the radio. For example, FM radio reception is fair, at best, and the FM antenna is prone to coming lose from the back. Fortunately, AM reception is much better.

Overall, the Concert to Go makes is a good, but not great system. It's a solid performer in most respects other than FM reception, but some of its parts feel cheap and poorly made. It's certainly among the biggest -- and loudest -- iPod alarm clocks on the market.

--Mathew Honan

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At a Glance
  • dreamGEAR iSound Concert to Go

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