Apple made some big claims when it introduced the iPod Hi-Fi–by calling it an “audiophile-quality” system, the company invited harsh criticism from audio geeks everywhere. Had the pitch instead been, “We don’t think anyone else has done the all-in-one iPod speaker system right, so we’re going to do it,” the public reaction probably would have been much more positive. After all, in addition to providing good sound, the Hi-Fi includes a number of clever and unique features that set it apart from systems that are simply speakers and an amplifier. And considering that Bose’s SoundDock has been selling exceptionally well at $300, a $350 price point for the Hi-Fi’s significantly better feature set along with sound quality that some people will prefer doesn’t seem all that unreasonable.
And it really is in this context–compact systems–that you should consider the Hi-Fi. Although I’m sure a few iPod owners will get rid of a larger home stereo system–especially an older one–for the convenience and compact size of the Hi-Fi, I don’t see people with true high-end stereo systems trading them in. Rather, the Hi-Fi is going to be an attractive option for people looking for good, room-filling sound in a compact package: It’s a bookshelf system for the iPod generation, and one that can even be taken with you in a pinch.