The Sleep button works similarly: pressing it does nothing; you need to hold it down for a couple seconds to enter sleep mode. (And you can't change the sleep time; it's 20 minutes or nothing. Although the "person-in-bed" icon that appears on the screen during sleep mode is cute.) It's actually easier to turn on the alarm or sleep mode from the remote, which requires only a single press of the appropriate button.
Still, despite these minor interface shortcomings, the iYiYi's alarm clock is entirely usable and, thanks to the larger, auto-dimming display, is both easier to read and better-suited to bedroom use than that of its portable sibling.
The iYiYi's built-in alarm is annoying (and we mean that as a complement). It starts out with a single, quiet beep, but after a few seconds the beep gets louder, then changes to a series of two beeps at a time, then two faster beeps and finally four fast beeps. Oddly, after a minute of sounding, the alarm turns off on its own, then repeats the process a minute later; this sequence will repeat for up to an hour unless you press the Alarm button to turn the alarm off.
Alternatively, you can set the alarm to wake to radio or iPod audio, although the process isn't exactly intuitive. You need to turn the iYiYi on, switch to the desired source, choose the desired volume, set the alarm, and then turn the iYiYi off again. (So you can't use sleep mode at a low volume at night and then wake to a louder volume the next morning.)
One other minor complaint we have about the iYiYi's alarm is that the system beeps whenever you set or enable the alarm. It's not unusual to need to set or turn on an alarm after someone else is already asleep in the room. Silence is indeed golden when it comes to such actions.
The iYiYi's credit-card-size, infrared remote is one the most feature-rich we've seen. It of course features the standard iPod-speaker-system remote buttons—power, play/pause, back, forward, volume up/down and mute. But you also get buttons for changing the input source - tuning the radio, cycling through each radio band's five presets and toggling the FM radio's RDS display.
When in iPod mode, you can switch to the next or previous album or playlist; turn on your iPod's backlight (a useful feature that lets you see the screen without having to walk over to the iPod and touch one if its own controls); and—using Up, Down, Menu and Select buttons—actually navigate your iPod's own onscreen menus.
Finally, the iYiYi's remote lets you quickly enable sleep mode, toggle the clock's alarm on and off, and switch the screen's display between source information and clock mode. We can't recall another iPod speaker system that provides such a comprehensive remote. Thankfully, these 24 buttons are arranged such that the remote is fairly easy to read and use.
Although the iYiYi's remote uses inexpensive "bubble" buttons, the buttons offer decent tactile feedback and are easy to press. And the remote's range is very good for an infrared model, allowing line-of-sight control from over 30 feet away and also at angles of over 90 degrees to each side.
The iYiYi gives clear, extended treble response and good midrange, with a decent amount of warmth and good bass. However, the amount of additional bass response isn't as much as you might think. You get a bit of bass "kick", and lower extension, but you shouldn't expect booming bass; this system focuses on tight, detailed presentation. The iYiYi can also quite loud, but exhibits some distortion at the highest volume levels.
And the iYiYi suffers from the same issues with stereo separation (or lack thereof) as other one-piece desktop speaker systems. The iYiYi doesn't offer bass or treble controls, either.
How does the iYiYi compare to other desktop systems in this price range? Its audio performance is better, in my opinion, than Bose's still-popular SoundDock. The SoundDock is a bit warmer, but the iYiYi offers better clarity and treble response. On the other hand, JBL's Radial, which lacks a radio or clock but is currently the best-sounding desktop speaker system for iPod, in our opinion, clearly bests the iYiYi in terms of sound quality. And, of course, if you're not wedded to the idea of a single-piece system, you can get better sound for less money in a system such as Monitor's three-piece i-deck; a new version, the i-deck plus, even includes a radio tuner.
In other words, if you're looking for the absolute best sound quality in a desktop iPod speaker system, the iYiYi isn't The One. But if you want a full-featured system, or are a fan of radio, the iYiYi is tough to beat and still offers very good audio performance; there's just a bit of a sonic trade-off for getting all these features in a compact package. And you may find that the Logitech AudioStation suits your needs better Read our review of the Logitech AudioStation iPod speaker system here.
Tivoli iYiYi: Specs
- 3in magnetically shielded driver
- Apple universal docking station
- automatic charging of docked iPod
- auxiliary Input
- credit card-sized remote control
- digital AM/FM tuner
- digital clock with alarm and sleep timer