Take your tunes virtually anywhere with the i-XPS 120 Outdoor - an outdoor speaker system for your iPod.

Many iPod speaker systems are sleek and stylish, but few could survive the punishment delivered by your average music festival, family holiday, or student party. Hercules' i-XPS 120 boasts both a rugged case and a water/dust-resistant finish that'll happily put up with bangs and drops, sand and spilled drinks, and the vagaries of English weather.

The Hercules i-XPS 120 Outdoor is a reasonably light and compact unit. Shaped like an upturned hovercraft, it looks sturdy. Two speakers surround a watertight container for your iPod, which includes a dock and is usefully spring-loaded to make inserting and removing easier. There's an audio jack for connecting other MP3 or CD players – which is great for group events – though few will fit inside and allow you to close the water-resistant compartment.

Hercules helpfully supplied a watering can with the Hercules i-XPS 120 Outdoor to test its water-resistance – and it easily survived a sustained sprinkle. The system is water-resistant – not waterproof though – and shouldn't be used in the shower or next to a pool.

Along the top of the Hercules i-XPS 120 Outdoor speaker system is a set of controls for turning the unit on, skipping between tracks and adjusting the volume. The 24W speakers are impressively loud, living up to its ‘Outdoor' name and more than capable of entertaining a reasonably-sized picnic or beach party.

The Hercules i-XPS 120 Outdoor's sound quality is reasonable. It is a bit muffled – which isn't surprising from such as robust design – but the i-XPS 120 is still good enough for most listeners on the move. There's a '3D' switch for use in small rooms, but it didn't have much effect.

An impressive set of accessories ships with the Hercules i-XPS 120 Outdoor. These include a universal power supply with adaptors for the UK, US and Europe; a car adaptor; and an audio lead for connecting non-iPods. The main unit's power input is hidden behind a rubber cover when used outdoors (powered by four C-sized batteries).

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Hercules i-XPS 120 Outdoor: Specs

  • One-piece 2.0 portable speaker system made for outdoors
  • IP 53 certified: Protection against water spray and dust
  • 2 water-resistant 7.1cm magnetically shielded broadband drivers
  • Watertight front door to protect the MP3 player
  • Robust shock-resistant rubberized contours
  • Compatible with iPod Nano (1st, 2d, 3rd generation), iPod Mini, iPod (30GB, 60GB, 80GB), iPod Classic, & iPod ShuffleTM via line input
  • Total output power: 12 Watts RMS (2 x 6W)
  • External power supply or via 4 C (LR14) batteries (not included) or via car adapter (included)
  • Auxiliary line input to connect an MP3 player or other external source
  • Rear carrying handle (34cm x 16cm x 15cm)
  • Power, Volume, 3D effect, previous/next track controls on front of unit
  • One-piece 2.0 portable speaker system made for outdoors
  • IP 53 certified: Protection against water spray and dust
  • 2 water-resistant 7.1cm magnetically shielded broadband drivers
  • Watertight front door to protect the MP3 player
  • Robust shock-resistant rubberized contours
  • Compatible with iPod Nano (1st, 2d, 3rd generation), iPod Mini, iPod (30GB, 60GB, 80GB), iPod Classic, & iPod ShuffleTM via line input
  • Total output power: 12 Watts RMS (2 x 6W)
  • External power supply or via 4 C (LR14) batteries (not included) or via car adapter (included)
  • Auxiliary line input to connect an MP3 player or other external source
  • Rear carrying handle (34cm x 16cm x 15cm)
  • Power, Volume, 3D effect, previous/next track controls on front of unit

OUR VERDICT

If you're looking for a speaker system to accompany you to Glastonbury or your next break somewhere sunny – or to move round the house without fear of breakage – the Hercules i-XPS 120 Outdoor is an excellent, if pricey, system. Audiophiles will want to look elsewhere, though.

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