The Tivoli Audio iPAL can be somewhat tough to categorize. While it's primarily billed as a portable iPod speaker, many critics say it makes a better table radio. Experts and owners call its basic design nothing new or innovative; it's essentially a repackaged version of the Tivoli PAL (Est. $220), that adds weather-resistant cladding and iPod-inspired styling.
Surprisingly powerful. Reviewers agree that the Tivoli Audio iPAL performs just as well as advertised. Both professionals and users say the small, mono-only speaker produces rich sound backed by a surprising amount of power. AM and FM reception are said to be strong, and the radio's analog tuning is called smooth and precise.
A rainbow of colors. Owners point out that the iPAL's bulkier form affects its practicality as a portable speaker. On the flip side, some of the same reviewers say the sound quality is good enough to make the Tivoli Audio iPAL worth using as a stand-alone table radio. A wide array of color choices is available for listeners who want to customize this radio's look.
Portable operation, but not much else. If there's an Achilles heel among reviews, it's the price of the Tivoli Audio iPAL. Several note that other table radio/iPod speaker solutions offer the same features in a smaller, less expensive package. The water-resistant cabinet does make the iPAL a good choice for use in a kitchen, or poolside. Despite its name, the iPAL has no iPod dock, just an auxiliary audio input. A rechargeable battery pack makes on-the-go use easy, and an internal battery charger and an external AC/DC power supply/charger are included.
The Tivoli Audio iPAL gets a close inspection from editors at CNET, who personally test products to evaluate their performance. They give the iPAL 3.5 stars out of 5 for its rich sound and superb reception, but say it's bulkier than some competing iPod speakers.
Review: Tivoli Audio iPAL, Steve Guttenberg, July 27, 2004
Jeremy Horwitz provides a comprehensive review of the Tivoli Audio iPAL, ultimately awarding it a B+ grade and Recommended label. He says the iPAL may not be as portable or as broadly useful as advertised, but it looks great and produces top-quality sound.
Review: Tivoli Audio iPAL AM/FM Radio, Jeremy Horwitz, June 9, 2004
3. PowerBook Central
Noah Kravitz details his initial testing of the Tivoli Audio iPAL in this older but still relevant write-up. He finds the system a bit expensive for the casual listener, but says more critical audiophiles will likely appreciate the superior sound quality and portability of the iPAL.
Review: Product Review: Tivoli iPAL Portable Audio System, Noah Kravitz, June 18, 2004
It takes more effort to get a true picture of how the Tivoli Audio iPAL rates among owners at Amazon.com, since the many color variants are listed separately. Still, with more than 160 reviews, the silver/white variation is the most popular by far. Feedback is largely very positive, and the radio earns 4.2 stars out of 5. A few users complain of durability issues, but more frequent are gripes that the iPAL is overpriced.
Review: Tivoli Audio iPAL Portable Audio Laboratory AM/FM Radio, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of November 2013