Oregon Scientific is a company that likes surprises. Last year it pulled off a bit of a coup with the first affordable underwater MP3 player. This year it has delivered wireless hi-fi system that could well be the best speaker system for the iPod so far. Its Music Sphere system features a curious round shaped speaker system which connects wirelessly via Frequency Hopping Shared Spectrum (FHSS) over the 2.4GHz wireless frequency band to a base station that outputs music from a CD player, computer, radio or MP3 player. It apparently has a similar range to DECT with Oregon claiming it will work at distances up to 30 metres.
The unit is available in two versions. The iBall, which you guessed it, has been optimised to work with iPods and the WRS368 Music Sphere which can accommodate up to three sources at a time. The iBall version also features a transmitter dock for the iPod which doubles as a recharger and a sync station for the player. There are also controls for the iPod on the speaker unit, so users can pause, stop and play tunes as well as turning the volume up and down.
The only thing that's missing is that the LED display on the speaker unit doesn't offer track listing, so to find out what you are listening to you'll have to return to the iPod. I heard a demo of both units this afternoon and was impressed not just by the concept but also by the sound quality, which was far superior to FM style streaming devices. The price is good too with the iBall going for £199.99 and the WRS368 Music Sphere at £179.99. Both are on sale next week and, dear American readers, will be available across the globe.