If you’re a radio lover, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better portable speaker solution than the Tivoli iPAL or PAL. As a speaker for an iPod or other portable player, it offers 15-20 hours of use (thanks to a rechargeable internal battery) in a weather-resistant, though bulky, enclosure that’s perfect for the beach or back yard. As a radio, the iPAL has one of the best AM/FM radios on the market, with sensitivity and selectivity that outperform many expensive tuners and receivers.
(The PAL comes in a rubbery enclosure and is available in one of eight colors. The iPAL is a version designed to match the iPod — it’s enclosure is harder plastic with a white gloss and matte silver finish. Both are water resistant.)
Even though the PAL/iPAL has only a single speaker, that speaker is exceptional — the PAL/iPAL provides sound quality that competes favorably with portable systems that have separate left/right speakers. (It’s difficult to get true stereo imaging from small speaker systems where the left and right speakers are close together, so in these cases mono isn’t the drawback it would be in a home system.) In fact, we preferred the full-bodied sound of the PAL/iPAL to most of the “stereo” portable speakers we’ve auditioned.
TIP: Although you’ll get the best sound by using a mini-to-mini cable to connect your iPod to the PAL/iPAL — preferably using the iPod’s line-out capability via a third-party adapter such as the SendStation PocketDock — you can also connect the two via an FM transmitter, which broadcasts your music over an FM frequency that can be received by the iPAL.–Dan Frakes