Sounds like a children's story, doesn't it? The Adventures of Boostaroo and iVoice II!
Well, no, this isn't a children's story, it's a product review. But these are two fun little
accessories that will help you make the most of your Mac's audio capabilities. One helps you get
sound in to your computer, while the other helps you get it out (and works with your iPod,
portable CD/DVD player, and most anything else with a headphone jack, too). Can you guess which
is which just from the titles?
Macally iVoice II - $49.00
This cute little white space egg lets you bring audio into your Mac by way of a built-in
microphone or 1/8" stereo line in jack that connects to your USB port. Though the iVoice II is great
for digitizing audio from any external audio source (CD player, tape player, record player),
it's real charm comes out during voice conferencing. Now that I have DSL at home, I can fire up
iChat and talk to my Mac-wielding friend in California for free, and the iVoice II makes it easy
and fun -- I feel kind of like a radio announcer when I speak into the stand-up microphone.
My PowerBook recognized iVoice II as soon as I plugged in the integrated USB cable. Gotta love
true Plug-And-Play capabilities. The built-in mic works very well for voice applications (including speech recognition apps), and
a line out jack lets you route the audio through headphones or stereo speakers. You can also, of
course, bypass the iVoice II and send audio out through your Mac's built-in analog speakers or
headphone jack. The iVoice also accepts standard PC headsets (the kind with the built-in boom
mics) and features a mute switch and mode switch and indicator light that lets you toggle between
microphone and line in input. Built-in feet make sure your iVoice II stands upright like a good
All in all this is a great all-in-one solution for voice recognition and analog audio in/out, and
Macally has done a great job of wrapping the functionality in an attractive, easy-to-use package.
iVoice II sells for $49.00 direct from
Boostaroo - $29.95
Boostaroo has updated their eponymous portable audio amplifier by adding an LED power indicator
light and enclosing the unit in a transluscent ice white casing. Boostaroo's functionality
remains the same -- it boosts any 1/8" audio signal by as much as 40% while also splitting
the signal in three -- and the new look is both attractive and practical. My only complaint
with the original model was that I'd often forget to turn it off and inadvertantly drain the
two AA batteries that gave it power. The new LED indicator helps
remind folks like me that, in fact, my Boostaroo is still on even when the music is over.
Boostaroo works great with my PowerBook and iPod, providing three clean, clear stereo outputs
with a noticable volume gain. The unit is small enough to carry with you, and it's 1/8" output
jacks are compatible with most headphones and personal speaker units. Boostaroo recommends using
the device to combat noisy environments such as airplane cabins. Me, I like using it while
practicing the drums: I can plug my headphones into Boostaroo, plug that into my PowerBook, and
play along to my entire iTunes collection.
Be forewarned: Exposure to high decible levels can damage your hearing over time. Used
wisely, though, Boostaroo is a great gadget for audio lovers who want to share the music and/or
need a little extra bang in their beats. Boostaroo is available direct from
boostaroo.com and sells for $29.95. A dollar
more gets you the 3ft. cord model if you need the extra length.