The Skullcandy Pipe is a pretty looking iPod speaker dock that will appeal more to the young at heart, but don't let this deter you from giving it some due consideration. After all, it's not everyday that you find an iPod dock this small, or with such a distinctive design.
Like its name implies, the Skullcandy Pipe is shaped like a sealed pipe, with the speakers positioned at the sides and adorned with the Skullcandy logo. While we can't fault the overall concept, we do have some doubts about the fingerprint friendly chrome surface. Its low profile and size speaks highly of its portability, and it can be powered by batteries for music on the go, though we don't expect the batteries to last long.
There are just three buttons on the Pipe, and you'll find the power switch on the back and the volume controls on the front . Unfortunately, there's no indicator to let you know how loud or soft the current setting is, so you'll have to do some guesswork. Luckily it isn't that hard and there are a few levels to play with, but you'll find that after the three loudest settings, you can classify the remaining lower levels as either soft, too soft, or muted.
Audio quality was generally fine, but when set to the highest volume, you'll find the bass breaking up when it came to heavier tracks. Also with the speakers located at the sides, you'll find the sound and volume slightly off as the speakers bounce the sounds to the sides. The upper registers however were much better and the vocal and treble quality was generally fine.
Volume was startlingly loud for a speaker of its size. We're talking about the sound easily filling up a room, so apart from the aforementioned bass, you'll generally find yourself rocking to the beat of your music.
With only the volume buttons to work with, Skullcandy has provided a remote control to adjust and select your music playback. Clad in chrome, the remote control suffers especially from fingerprints but better the remote than the Pipe, we say. The remote allows you to access the iPod/iPod Touch menu to select songs and provides volume and playback control.
While you can actually use an iPhone with the unit, you will have to set it to Airplane mode in order to avoid interference as the Pipe isn't magnetically shielded. Otherwise, you'll find that the audio playback will suffer from random beeps. Lastly, there's also an extra docking clip for iPod Nanos if the need arises.
The Skullcandy Pipe is a decent enough speaker dock and eminently portable. Sure it does have a weak bass and a fingerprint friendly surface, but its portable form factor did sway our opinion towards the positive side. At US$69.95 (~S$105), the Pipe may seem a little expensive, but considering its capabilities and portability, it's worth taking a look.