As mentioned above, the Mint 220 isn't just an iPod speaker dock. In addition to the standard line-in jack on its backside (so you can hook up any external non-iPod audio source), the Mint also doubles as a wireless external speaker for any Windows PC or Mac. Simply attach the included USB dongle to a free port on the computer, switch the 220 to "wireless audio" mode, and you're all set. In our testing we didn't even have to sync the USB key to the 220--pressing a "connect" button on both the key and 220 may be required, though. We should mention, however, that this essentially cuts off your existing sound card. As soon as you pull out the USB key, your PC or Mac switches back to the default sound output.
The USB dongle should autoinstall on newer Windows and Mac computers. And there's no issues with DRM or music restrictions--if you can hear something on your standard (wired or built-in) computer speakers, you'll hear them on the Mint. The manufacturer lists the maximum range at about 45 feet; realistically, we could only go about 25 feet before experiencing dropouts.
We were pleasantly surprised by the 220's sound. While it can't get as loud as you might like, the sound quality is very sharp and clear. Bass is not very well defined, but we noticed that when we enabled the "EQ" setting, we got a wider frequency response (more bass and treble presence). You'll most likely notice this boost in response in rock songs. We used Stone Temple Pilots' "Vasoline" as a test song and were immediately aware of the boost in sound the mode creates. As with most iPod speaker docks, the louder you get, the more distortion is apparent. While the 220 bore out that axiom, noticeable audible distortion was only evident with bass-heavy songs like Rage Against The Machine's "Bulls on Parade."
The Mint 220 is priced at $180. While that may sound a bit high, it's reasonable when you consider that it's doubling as an iPod speaker and a wireless PC speaker. As far as alternatives go, for instance, you might consider the identically priced Sony CMT-BX50BTi--but it's a larger three-piece shelf system, and your PC would need either built-in Bluetooth A2DP support or a similarly equipped dongle for the audio streaming. That said, it would've been nice to see a handful of extra features on the Mint--for instance, a clock/radio/alarm.
Overall, the Mint 220 is recommendable for those who split their digital music listening between an iPod and the computer--especially if he or she uses a laptop as the primary music source. The Mint is a great improvement over the puny built-in speakers on notebook PCs, and its wireless capacity means fewer cables plugged into the laptop.
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