(Review) - Kensington is back with another set of iPod exclusive speakers. The 3000R is an upgrade to the SX 2000 speakers for the iPod, which we looked at earlier this year. Kensington’s latest offering promises to be a nice upgrade with a few more features and hopefully better audio quality. The company has kept much of the simplicity of the SX 2000, but has tagged on a few things here and there that might win it glory in the end.
The 3000R is available exclusively in black, while the SX 2000 is available in white. Since Apple offers white and black versions of its iPod music players, we would recommend Kensington to offer the exact same products in two different colors. If you really like the 3000R, for instance, but you have a white iPod, you are out of luck. Either you learn to live with the odd color combination or you skip this speaker altogether. And for some reason, we don’t think Kensington would want its customers to make such a daring choice. The black does look considerably better than the white, though.
Kensington has applied the same NXT technology to the 3000R as it did with the SX 2000. As you might recall, NXT promises uncompromising audio quality with a slim design to save space and make the unit more elegant in presentation. The iPod dock is permanently attached to the unit, thereby making it a one-piece speaker. Similar to its predecessor, the 3000R lacks custom inserts for the iPod family members, even though it fits the ones that come with iPods comfortably. There’s nothing wrong with that, especially if you don’t mind mish-mashing the black and white color scheme, but obviously it doesn’t match well from an aesthetical perspective. The device also contains the power and volume buttons underneath the dock, just in case you lose the remote control - a nice touch, indeed.
One fundamental improvement that the 3000R boasts is the added FM radio integration option. You now have the option to listen to radio right from the iPod interface and transfer the audio output to the speaker. Since the 3000R doesn’t have a display, you must control the radio functionality either from the iPod or the packaged wireless infrared remote. Furthermore, you can recharge the iPod as it’s playing music from the speaker and work with sleep and wake-up timers from the iPod. The remote control is your standard device with navigation buttons, a power button, a bass button and a connection button. It worked flawlessly in our testing as long as we made sure there were no objects blocking the signal. However, it, too, could use an all black exterior with backlit buttons to match well with the iPod.
In our audio quality performance tests, the speaker performed well. In fact, we didn’t find too much of a difference between the SX 2000 and the 3000R, if any at all. Despite Kensington’s added bass claim, it hardly made any difference. The audio quality might’ve been a little crisper, but other than that, you couldn’t tell the audio parity between the two. Since the speaker uses A/C power, you won’t have to worry about batteries either, which depending upon your needs could be a benefit or a drawback. It didn’t make any difference to us in our test lab. The 3000R supports 4G, 5G, iPod Mini and iPod Nano.
For the average price of $130, the 3000R may be on the expensive side, and considering it still doesn’t support video output, it may not be the top choice for those of you who like to view photos and watch videos. But if you are looking for a good speaker, solely for music, the 3000R is definitely worth considering.