iVoice II, by Macally
Posted: 7-Jul-2003

5 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: Macally Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewer: Bill Catambay Class: HARDWARE

Overview
The Macally iVoice II is a Mac audio add-on that adds Audio In and Audio Out ports through your Mac's USB port. It makes Audio In and Out ports very accessible, and is especially useful for Macs that don't have a built-in Audio In port.

Retail price is $49.

Features

  • Built-in microphone
  • Stereo line-in jack to digitize your analog audio from cassette tape player, CD player etc.
  • Mic-in and line-out jacks accept the regular PC headset (not included) for comfort and convenience of internet chatting
  • Mute button to turn off built-in mic, mic-in and line-in
  • Perfect for application such as voice command and control, voice recognition, voice recording, internet phone and video conference
  • Power mute indicator
  • Fully compliant with USB1.1 specification

Requirements

  • G3/G4, iMac or PowerBook with a built-in USB port or any PowerPC with 3rd party USB adapter installed
  • MacOS 9.2, Mac OS 10.1.5

Initial Setup
Hooking up the iVoice II is incredibly simple. Just plug the USB cable into your Mac's USB port (or a USB hub), and then use your OS software to set your input to USB (on OS 9, "External Mic, and on OS X, "Macally USB Microphone"). There is no external power needed. I just plugged it in, and it worked.

In Use
The iVoice II comes in an egg-like shape with curved foot that props it upright. The design is quite functional, as all the ports and knobs are easily accessible, and if you are using the built-in microphone, the positioning is just right for capturing audio in. Not only that, but it looks cool sitting on your desktop. Although an egg-shape device may seem prone to tipping over, I found that the foot on the iVoice II did an excellent job of preventing such a fall (even when I purposely was poking at it trying to tip it over). The casing is made of a durable white plastic with a very sturdy feel.

There's one button on the top of the device for switching from Mic In (non-powered input) to Line In (powered input). On the left side are the Mic In and Line Out ports, appropriately together in case you use a computer headset that has duel jacks. On the right side is the Line In port as well as a volume control knob for the Line Out signal.

You can use this device in a variety of ways, from recording sounds on the built-in Mic, recording sounds on an external non-powered Mic, and recording sound from a powered device (such as a CD player, MP3 player, etc.). Utilizing the Mic In and Line Out ports together, you can also use it for video conferencing using a computer headset, or headphones with an external Mic.

I was amazed at how simple it was to use this unit. Under OS 9, I hooked it up, switched the input to External Mic, and immediately went to the Alerts tab of the Sound control panel and clicked on New Sound. I spoke into the iVoice II, and the sound instantly was recorded as a new alert sound. The quality of the recording was pretty good for a built-in Mic. Of course, the quality varies with the type of microphone you use, the level of input, and the background noise. Using a desktop microphone connected to the Mic In port, I was able to capture a much higher quality sound.

Besides using the record function on the OS 9 Sound control panal, you can also capture audio using any recording software, such as SoundEdit or Sound Studio. You can also use it with video conferencing software to speak and listen through the iVoice II audio in and out ports. What was a very pleasant surprise is that the iVoice II also supports the Apple microphones (you know, those Mics that used to come with every Mac). Just when I thought it was time to toss out the old microphones, the iVoice II has given them a reprieve.

The iVoice II is well integrated with the Mac OS, both OS 9 and OS X, and I am hard-pressed to find any fault with the hardware. If I could suggest anything, I would ask for a longer cable, one that would make the distance between a desktop microphone connected to a tower Mac that may be sitting underneath the desk. Of course, since the iVoice II can also be hooked into a USB hub, using a desktop hub circumvents that particular drawback.

Summary
The magic of the iVoice II is in its simplicity. This is a USB add-on device that puts Audio In and Out ports
on your desktop, complete with volume control and a toggle for powered or non-powered input. The design is both pleasing and functional. For any Mac user with Audio needs, this is a welcome addition to your Mac system; and for those G4 users that do not have an Audio In port at all, the iVoice II is a must have.

Pros

  • Brings back the Audio In port for G4 Macs that don't have them
  • Supports Mic input, externally amped device input, and Audio out
  • Built-in Mic, or supports 3rd party Mics (including the Apple Mic)
  • Cool and functional design, including volume control on output
  • Inexpensive

Cons

  • A longer cable would be helpful for hooking up to a tower Mac


Overall Rating

5 out of 5 Mice