This beautiful work of craftsmanship is a brave attempt at a fully functioning iPod remote with its own audio/video docking bay.
It caught our attention because similar products are few and far between, andmore often than not a pain in the backside to use. Keyspan's TuneView is probably its stiffest competition but, while that works well, it lacks the aesthetic kick of this new-fangled EWOO.
In the package is a remote with a nano screen-sized colour display. On this you see a mimicked iPod menu layout that syncs with your iPod's content. With the iPod docked and cables linking back to your TV or stereo you can command the iPod from distances of up to 50 feet. Zicplay claims you can use the remote from 100 feet away, but we couldn't get it to work at that range.
The output options on the docking bay, which also charges the iPod and remote, are impressive. You get an analogue audio out, optical TOSLINK out, and S-Video out. The optical audio option is a nice touch and gives the impression that a degree of audiophile sensibility is at play here. Sadly, there's no Apple dock connector port for linking to a Mac for playlist updates.
We had some niggles with the EWOO. It can get the jitters when skipping between tracks, and the relay of the remote's display and the iPod's display can stick a little, too. Then you have the tactile experience of the remote, which, although iPod-like with its scrolling antics, actually feels a bit lightweight and plasticky after holding an iPod. For nearly £100 you expect more.
But the bigger hurdle is the sound quality. We think the EWOO waters down the sound from the iPod despite the presence of the optical out - the tunes from our Harman Kardon amp sounded less sharp than directly running a split RCA cable from the iPod.
Admittedly, sound quality from a compressed MP3 file is never going to dazzle but the whole purpose of this dock is to enhance the iPod's abilities, not cramp its style.
The lingering impression we got after playing with the EWOO is that it's an over-designed piece of hardware - the all-capitalised product name gives this away before you get it out of the box.
In our view, Zicplay would have been better off hiring fewer designers and more technicians to get the thing working better. And claims about remote control effectiveness from whopping distances that don't stand up to a basic test are just going to annoy people.