Of course, the Mint Studio is an iPod dock first and foremost, and in that respect there aren't a lot of surprises. It's "Made for iPod" so you'll get charging and full control of your iPod from the included remote, and the sound quality is just about what you'd expect from a low-end to mid-range dock -- a bit muffled and undefined, but no doubt a good deal better than your laptop speakers. It's also fairly understated in appearance (though a bit of a fingerprint and dust magnet), and should be equally at home in the office, bedroom or kitchen -- just don't plan on moving it around too much, as this one doesn't take batteries.
Digital Signature's new Mint Studio iPod dock may not look all that different than the company's previous Mint 130 model on the outside, but it's gotten a few fairly significant upgrades to its internals, which was enough to get us interested in it again. The biggest of those are some improved wireless capabilities, which still rely on the same tried and true 2.4GHz band as before, but promise an increased range of up to 100 feet (up from 45 before), and less interference from other devices thanks to some new channel-hopping technology. The real kicker, however, is that the wireless transmitter is able to support up to three of the systems simultaneously, making the Mint Studio a cut-rate multi-room audio solution of sorts -- although anyone looking for anything close to Sonos-level functionality will want to look elsewhere. Read on for our full impressions.
Gallery | 17 Photos
Mint Studio hands-on and impressions
It's the wireless capabilities that are the real selling point here though, and on that front the Mint Studio mostly lives up to its (admittedly modest) aims. The biggest downside is that the system is strictly one-way, meaning that you can stream music to up to three systems from your computer, but you can't actually control iTunes or other music applications with the Mint's remote. You also can't stream different music to different Mint Studios from your computer, nor can you stream music from an iPod on one Mint Studio to another Mint Studio.
The good news, however, is that it's relatively cheap ($129 for the system and a wireless transmitter, plus $99 for each additional system), and it works as promised with virtually no setup required. Setup actually turned out to be easiest in Windows (XP in our case), where the USB transmitter was immediately recognized as an audio device, although things aren't much more difficult on a Mac, where you just have to go into system preferences once to select the transmitter as your audio device (after which it's recognized each time you plug it in). In both cases, however, the transmitter acts as your computer's sole audio device, meaning you can't use your speakers or headphones without first removing the transmitter, which could be particularly annoying for those with a desktop under their desk. Most importantly, however, we had no problems with the Mint Studio when it came to interference or drop outs, and that includes whether we were simply streaming to a dock across the room or to multiple docks upstairs and downstairs.
So, while it's not exactly punching it out with the heavyweights in multi-room audio, the Mint Studio does certainly hold its own with many similarly-priced iPod docks out there, and it gives you a little extra functionality that most of those don't -- which is never a bad thing. Check out the gallery above for a closer look.