The Esiena iF360BT by Edifier is one stylish and great sounding all-in-one audio solution [Review]

I have to be 100% honest here, I’d never heard of Edifier until its PR representatives got in touch about me reviewing some of its products. I had absolutely no idea what to expect. But, when I saw the £200 ($300)+ price point for the Esiena Bluetooth enabled all-in-one iF360BT speaker dock/HiFi, I wasn’t expecting cheap and shoddy. Still, the brand is very new to me, but, if this speaker system is anything to go by, it’s one I’ll grow to appreciate more as my career in tech reviewing develops further.

The iF360BT boasts two 30-Watt speakers, more than ample for filling a bedroom, office or dining room. What makes it truly versatile is its slew of available inputs and media compatibilities. It has Bluetooth, stereo FONO, USB and SD card reader as well as an FM antenna for picking up your favorite radio stations. Oh, and there’s also a 30-pin connector for anyone with an iOS device rocking Apple’s older connection port.

Its design is understated. It’s predominantly made from a glossy-finished black plastic. The front has a more matte finish, particularly on the speaker grilles, with a brushed metal band running horizontally through the middle. Front and center is a fairly large display that shows time, date and track information (if using the right connection). On top is a series of 6 touch sensitive controls, 3 on each side, flanking a circular iPod style track wheel. Right in the center is the play/pause button. When powered on, these controls glow a classy red color.

The 30-pin dock is protected by a fold-down stand when not in use. I loved this touch for two reasons: it gives fantastic stability to which every iDevice you decide to use, and it hides/protects the hideous 30-pin connector that would otherwise be a blemish on the Esiena’s surface if left in the open. On each side is an air hole, which not only provides space for air to move around the system, but also make this thing look great from every angle. Its circular design, and rounded corners almost make the device seem completely seamless. The rounded backside is particularly pleasing to look at (I know, that’s what she said).All the input ports are located right out of the way, on right beneath the speaker’s posterior. Although it makes them a little hard to access, it’s not a huge issue since access is very rarely needed.

Performance wise, for the price point, this speaker system is great, and fairly versatile in that respect to, thanks to having the ability to alter bass and treble levels. Although it could certainly do with a more detailed equalizer, and the ability to alter mid-frequency sounds, it’s still more flexibility than you’d get with a lot of other iPod/iPhone speaker docks. In terms of volume, you’ll get varying levels depending on the input. AUX input is by far quieter than either Bluetooth or 30-pin dock settings. But, again, that’s pretty standard in a lot of docks.

Personally, I didn’t feel like I was using the system to the best of its abilities until I sat my iPhone in the dock. Not only was it louder, but the display, remote control and onboard controls become so much more useful. The track wheel is fantastic, and pays homage to a lot of the old iPod designs in both looks, and use. It was sensitive and soft touch, and was an absolute pleasure to use. The remote control on the other hand was very plasticcy and cheap feeling. The flat shape made it a little uncomfortable to hold. But, then again, I rarely needed to use it.

All-in-all, I’m impressed with the device’s versatility and style. I applaud the design, and I like that even now that I’ve moved away from the 30-pin devices, the system still has its uses, although a little restricted unless you are using a 30-pin equipped device. Sound quality is fine. It didn’t wow me with its depth, and the bass/treble adjustments made little impact on a lot of songs. Not to say that it was poor, it just wasn’t breath taking. And, as always, Bluetooth audio streaming had its moments of jittery-ness. With all that taken in to consideration, I found it to be the perfect solution for listening to music in my office, and shall genuinely miss not having it around when I send it back to Edifier.

To check out the product for yourself, head on over to the company’s site: Edifier.us.com. They can be purchased on Amazon.com for $299 in the States or from around £140 in the UK.

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