The “i” in iPod imbues Apple’s popular music player with a sense of personalization. But why keep your tunes to yourself when you can share the joy wirelessly? Creative designed the Xdock Wireless Music System for iPod so you and your family members can listen to your iPod from any speakers in your house—so long as they’re connected to the Xdock Wireless itself or an X-Fi Wireless Receiver.
Setting up the Xdock Wireless Music System is simple. You start by powering up the Xdock and placing your iPod in the dock’s cradle, which uses Apple’s Universal design. Since the dock transmits the wireless audio signal, you’ll want to set it up in a central location—and hopefully a location with a television so you can take advantage of the dock’s video-out port, which allows you to play video through your TV with a supported iPod. The Xdock’s audio-out port works with any dockable iPod, as well as the iPhone; unfortunately, the video-out feature does not work with the iPhone, iPod touch, iPod classic, or third- or fourth-generation iPod nano.
You then place an X-Fi Wireless Receiver in another room where you want to listen to music—your master bedroom, for example—and connect the Receiver to a stereo or a set of powered speakers. The dock and Receiver connect automatically within a few seconds, and you can connect multiple receivers as long as they’re within 100 feet of the dock. You can also, of course, connect the Xdock itself to a stereo system.
The main Xdock also includes a USB port for connecting your iPod to your Mac for syncing with iTunes.
Design and usability
Both the receiver and the dock offer the same controls, with which you can play or pause a song, skip or scan tracks back or forward, and adjust volume. Both also sport a shiny, black exterior with rounded corners. The simplicity of these designs is nice, but I think both components—especially the receiver—are a bit bulky for what they do. (The Xdock is approximately 5.5 inches long, 4.5 inches wide, and 3.5 inches deep; the receiver is is about an inch shorter at 4.5 inches.) A slimmer, smaller design would be less obtrusive in your living room or bedroom.
I set up the Xdock and a receiver to transmit music from my living room to my bedroom. The sound quality was very good, but as is often the case with wireless, I heard a very faint hiss on speakers connected to the Receiver. Although I noticed the noise only when purposely listening for it, discerning audiophiles will want to search for other options. When listening to speakers or a stereo connected directly to the Xdock itself, audio quality is much better, with no hiss.
Macworld’s buying advice
The wireless convenience of the Xdock doesn’t come cheap: The dock alone costs $130, and you’ll have to lay out another $50 for each receiver. And, of course, if you don’t already have multiple stereos or speaker systems, you’ll need to spend more for additional listening hardware. But sharing is caring, right? If you’ve got the money and the desk space, the Xdock is a cool solution that allows your iPod to be several places at once.