Bringing GEORGE into your home
April 13, 2007
With a dime-a-dozen iPod speaker devices out there, I’ve learned to shut off my brain when a new one pops up. After awhile they almost all sound the same. While I was at Macworld this year, I saw even more of these mundane speakers that I really wanted to ignore, but I just couldn’t ignore GEORGE.
No, GEORGE isn’t a person. It’s a digital audio system made by Chestnut Hill Sound Inc. for the iPod and, most importantly, it won Best of Show from the editors of Macworld during the conference. Because of the award, I just had to check it out. The big crowd at the show prevented me from having much firsthand contact with GEORGE, but I finally had a chance to play with it in my own home.
After taking it out of the box and getting it situated, the first thing I noticed - and my favorite aspect of it - is that the faceplate comes off and acts as your remote control. It’s powered by a rechargeable battery, and is recharged by attaching it onto GEORGE’s main body, or the optional remote charging stand.You’ll see everything you need on this, including the controls of your iPod, the radio or an alarm clock. I like that it has a big knob for the volume, and the rest of the easy-to-use buttons, and other options that appear on the screen.
While listening to the radio, GEORGE features BANDLESS tuning, which eliminates the artificial barrier of AM and FM. You can just spin the knob around and you have a seamless circle of stations from which to choose.You’ll also see the radio stations appear at the bottom of the screen.
“We are delighted to have our first product,GEORGE,honored as Best of Show by the editors of Macworld,” said Steve Krampf, CEO of Chestnut Hill Sound. “The iPod has completely changed how you listen to music, and GEORGE represents a better way to experience your iPod at home by giving you full control over your music from your place of comfort. CHS is committed to creating digital sound innovations that define next-generation home audio.”
In addition to syncing up with your iPod and playing the radio, it can act as your alarm clock. The alarms available vary from nap and sleep timers to dual or one-time alarms. You can pick and choose what song(s) will play to wake you up. You can do the same for a radio station if you don’t want your iPod to go off. If you’re a particularly heavy sleeper you can set the wake-up volume to be as loud as you need. Additionally you can use GEORGE as a jukebox by plugging its preamp out into your bigger sound system. With that, your iPod’s sound can flow richly through your house, and can be fun using GEORGE’s remote control. If you’re worried about GEORGE being out of date, you can easily update and upgrade it with a USB cable.
Overall GEORGE is a good product because of its multiple features. It is the only remote that can fully control your iPod’s functions. To me the only drawback is that the sound quality isn’t quite up to par. The total size of GEORGE is 14.25-by-5-by-8.6 inches, and it honestly doesn’t sound as good as my Bose SoundDock. If you’re in a very small room, or using it at your nightstand for which it’s targeted, then it’s adequate. Blasting GEORGE in a bigger room made it sound like some weak speakers (fixable by plugging it into your big speakers). If you’re very picky on sound you probably will not like it, but if you’re more into the gadget aspect of it, the multiple features are fun to play with.
You can buy a GEORGE of your own for $549 (or $599 with the remote charging stand) at www.chillsound.com. They’re working on getting it into the Apple Store, so we might see it there soon. For now it’s only available on the website stated above. I know the price is a little steep, but it offers a free 30-day in-home trial.
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