Hardy shell, great sound, long battery life. Can connect unit to computer.
No carrying handle. No international plug adapters.
One of the most surprising, yet best portable sound systems for the iPod is the Sonic Impact i-Fusion. This audio suitcase stunned my ears with its clarity and full sound.
The i-Fusion is very different than most portable speakers, and although it is called a boom box by Sonic, it doesn't fit that bill. It doesn't have a handle and is not a player you'd put on a shoulder and tote around. It is a tabletop portable that opens up like a suitcase. The speaker system is compatible with all iPods too. There are adapters for each model of dockable iPods, and a 3.5mm input usable with older iPods and other MP3 players (and a cable is included). A Nano adapter can be ordered from Sonic's web site, or just use the stereo input.
The first surprising feature is its box-like case with a large zipper. The hard case not only provides robust protection for your iPod and the speaker system, but serves to enhance your listening experience too. According to Sonic, the "engineers chose the optimal materials, size and density of the hard case to optimize the audio output." I sincerely doubt any transit authority could accidentally crush this device while in a suitcase, which makes it a good choice for airline travel. There is also a well-connected metal ring to attach a carrying strap, but one did not ship with the unit I received.
The i-Fusion has a number of other features not available in most portable systems. Inside the case, between the speakers, is an iPod storage compartment, behind a pop-open door. Next to the battery in the bottom half of the case is another compartment to store your small headphones and possibly an electrical adapter.
The case includes a rechargeable battery with approximately 15 hours of life and an easy to read display. When the system doesn't hear sound within eight minutes, it shuts down and goes into standby mode. The 30-pin connector dock keeps your iPod charged and the case even includes a dock connector port so that you can hook it up to your computer to add more music without removing the iPod. An attached thick rubber cover protects the dock connector and other ports.
Simple, round plus and minus buttons control the volume, which you have to pump up pretty high to achieve any loudness distortion. The sound is bright and impressive for such a small box. The sound is delivered through aluminum cone neodymium drivers and uses advanced MaxxBass technology. As noted in the Altec Lansing IM5 review, MaxxBass technology, developed by Waves, enables speakers to sound more powerful and deeper. It certainly succeeds in the i-Fusion; even Portishead's "Wandering Star" didn't tax the system.
The price you pay for such a protective, complete system is weight. The i-Fusion is 4.03 lb., so take that into account when you pack. It was a little annoying that the ribbon-like connectors between the top and bottom were tight enough to pull the top closed if I moved the I-Fusion, but those are easily disconnected if you want the unit to lie flat while in use. The power cord was a bit longer than those shipped with other systems, which is a nice feature. Overall, this is the best sound system I've heard for the price and portability.