Earth Day's upon us, y?all, so in honor of the green occasion, Griffin AirCurve's getting a little play today. The cube-shaped base is not just a holding base for the iPhone, but acts as an acoustic amplifier that reportedly boosts the phone's audio sans electricity.
But does it really work, as advertised? I was curious, so I asked for a review sample, just to see.
I opened the box to find a pretty nice-looking cube. I don't know what I was expecting; something cheesier and kind of junky-looking, I guess, given its $16 to $20 price point. But it looks and feels substantial, not at all flimsy or cheap. Minimalists and modern design enthusiasts would probably dig its size, shape and aesthetic.
But I didn't want to check out this accessory for its looks. I?m a bit hard of hearing, and using the iPhone's single built-in speaker is kind of useless for me. For most people, though, its probably okay for playing voice mail messages or listening to a short podcast with a friend (who will need to be sitting directly beside you to make out the sounds). But unless you cup your hand around it so the audio can bounce off it, you have to be in a pretty quiet room to hear anything intelligible. For me, the room has to be stone-cold silent, and I still have a tough time.
So looking at this pretty little block of what looks like plastic, I admit that I was doubtful ? and hopeful. With no wires, I?d be able to cart this thing all around my apartment or on road trips without fuss. But I just didn't believe the thing would actually work.
Well, I was wrong.
I popped in the cradle (it comes with 2 fittings, for the iPhone and iPhone 3G) and seated my phone into it. It was a little loose, and could fit a big snugger, but as long as I didn't jostle it, the setup worked fine.
When the handset played a song without the AirCurve, it came out thin and kind of mono-sounding. Through the acoustic speaker, however, the audio was both louder and ? unexpectedly ? a little bit richer in sound.
According to Griffin, the secret to the amplification is in the physical design. The inside of the clear plastic block kind of looks like an ear canal, which makes sense, given what it's supposed to do. When audio from the iPhone's single speaker travels through this coiled ?horn,? it comes out the other side roughly 10 decibels louder.
Now that amount of amplification isn't going to raise the roof at a dance club, but it will work for background music at my next dinner party, as an alarm clock on my bedside table or for a portable sound boost in a hotel room or camping tent.
Generally speaking, the AirCurve is well-designed ? minus a couple exceptions. There's a space routed along the bottom to fit a docking cable, either the standard one or a Griffin-branded cord, which is sold separately. This would allow the cube to act like an all-in-one speaker/dock/recharging station.
It's a great idea, but when I tried it with my standard cable, the plug's head wouldn't stay put, making it difficult ? nearly impossible ? to just slide that puppy in. The cube also doesn't allow for a landscape orientation. Being able to watch YouTube or video podcasts with amplified sound would be nice.
But despite these hiccups, the AirCurve is still a winner in my book. It does what it's supposed to with both style and efficiency. Plus, I don't have to worry about audio interference from the cellular signal, like the crazy pops and buzzes that result from putting the iPhone anywhere near my powered Altec Lansing speakers.
I know it's hard to get a sense of how well an audio-oriented accessory performs from a written article, so I?ll do a video review soon. That way, you can see and hear for yourself. As for me, I?m glad I got a chance to check this out. I?m constantly amazed at how good green, energy-efficient products have become. And, I?m happy to note, the AirCurve is no exception.
[Thanks to ThinkGeek.com for the product sample.]