The Sony ZS-S4iP Boombox is Sony’s attempt to give iPhone and iPod Touch owners a great way to listen to their music with a few nostalgic hints of the past. You may remember those days of long ago, where music came “recorded” onto “magnetic tape” using primitive “analog” technology. This magnetic tape was wrapped around tiny plastic reels. The reels were then encased inside a plastic frame that would keep the tape from unspooling without control. These constructions were known to the people of the time as “audio cassettes” or sometimes “tapes.”
Never heard of them? Don’t worry. Your parents may remember them. If they do, they may also remember that some of these “cassettes” could be played in “tape players” that came in the form of music players with large speakers, sometimes called “boomboxes” (based on how loud their volume could be raised to). You could insert these cassettes into trays that would fold out from the faces of these boomboxes, push the trays back into the face and allow a “magnetic tape reader” to come into contact with the tape inside. This would also allow spinning gears to turn the reels, sliding the tape across that magnetic tape reader. The reader would then send the magnetic impulses stored on the tape through an amplifier and then onto speakers.
So, what does Sony’s new ZS-S4iP Boombox have to do with any of this technology from the 1900s?
It turns out the ZS-S4iP Boombox has a tray in it’s face much like those old-time magnetic tape players from the dark, low-quality audio times of the pre-digital music era (a time known to most modern observers as “The 80s”). This tray swings out from the face of the ZS-S4iP and allows you to slide your iPhone or iPod Touch into it. You then push the tray back into the face of the ZS-S4iP and you are then able to listen to your digital music on the device’s large speakers.
The other nice thing about the Sony ZS-S4iP Boombox is that it actually does embrace another, somewhat less antiquated technology, known as the “Compact Disc” or “CD.” This technology is still in use by some people for music and data storage. The ZS-S4iP will play traditional CDs (like the ones your parents first bought over two decades ago) and it will also play CD-Rs and CD-RWs which were the precursor to writable and re-writable DVDs. You can burn mp3s onto these CDs and the ZS-S4iP will play them just fine.
Sony’s homage to boomboxes of old also includes one final tribute to twentieth century technology: AM/FM radio. Long before the podcast, long before even the Internet, there was a thing called “radio” and… is this whole “ye olde tyme technology” joke dead and buried by this point in the post?
While this may not compare to high end home theater surround sound speaker systems, it is sufficient for most iPod listening needs.
OK, good–the Sony ZS-S4iP Boombox should be available October 2008 for a price assumed to be around $140. This is all according to a post at SonyInsider.com on the Sony ZS-S4iP Boombox.