The iPod Hi-Fi (2006)
Riding the wave of the iPod’s popularity, Apple decided in 2005 that it was time to throw its hat into the iPod speaker market, so it hired an engineer from Klipsch to produce its first dockable speaker for the iPod.
The iPod Hi-Fi wasn’t a bad product, but it was perhaps the first truly niche product of the iPod era. Apple’s speaker entered a world that was already dominated by many other Dock Connector capable speakers from Altec Lansing, Bose, JBL, Klipsch, and others, yet it didn’t offer anything that was compelling enough for most buyers.
In fact, for many, the iPod Hi-Fi just had too many limitations. Apple succeeded in its goal of providing a seamless experience for iPod users, with no power buttons or other controls to fuss with, this also meant that it lacked things like independent bass and treble controls. The only port on the back was a 3.5mm audio input jack, but there were no data or video out ports to allow you to sync your iPod or play movies and TV shows on your screen.
While it was one of the highest quality “portable” speakers available at the time, since it could run on a set of six D-cell batteries, with a weight of 17 pounds it was better described as “luggable” than “portable.”
To be fair, the iPod Hi-Fi did produce impressive sound quality at high volumes — Apple said it was built for a ten-foot listening experience — however its overall sound quality didn’t justify its high price tag over the competition, and Apple’s claims of “audiophile” sound quality were met with derision by many actual audiophiles. At $349 it was more expensive than most of the iPods you were supposed to connect to it, and it was discontinued in 2007 after less than two years on the market.