And it plays music too
By Low Teck Mee
Some tech inventions, once gone, just won’t come back. The cathode ray tube (CRT) television, I am sure you’ll agree, is one. Conversely, the vinyl player is an exception since it is not a clunky piece of old tech. It’s analogue with charm an beauty. And I am guilty of resuscitating my old Rega. Sadly, not the CRT set. It may be charming as retro interior item, but no one wants to watch Netflix on it.
Still, some designers find the old television cute enough to want to resurrect its form. In the case of the Tivoo, a neat little gadget from portable speaker maker Divoom, the goggle-box is ideal for disguising a (mini) boombox. While the Tivoo may look like it could have come from the set of the Jetsons, “Family of the Future”, it is designed for the present digital age, and possibly for a little longer than after tomorrow.
Hong Kong-based Divoom is known for their Timebox and Aurabox LED-pixel-fronted speakers, which are both audio and visual companions to those who can’t get enough from listening alone. When I caught sight of the Timebox at HMV in Hong Kong two years back, I was quite attracted to it. The idea that I could also create pixel art on the front screen was especially appealing. What held me back was the square-blockish design: it felt oddly stiff and cold. A year later, when I saw it again in Loft in Sendai, Japan, I didn’t bite the bait.
With the Tivoo, things are different. Unlike the earlier Divoom iterations, it is conceived as a far more capable portable speaker. Fitted with a digital signal processor (DSP) that renders surprisingly clear sound and vocals for such a tiny little devise, the Tivoo also comes with a bass port to give a palpable thump to tracks such as BTS’s Idol. In fact, the Tivoo is a 6W, 360 full-range speaker that offers multi-directional sound from the top, unlike the Timebox and Aurabox, which had speakers in their rear. Okay, I’m not going to pretend this can take the place of the well-loved (and a lot dearer) Bose Soundlink Revolve, but as it includes a a full-RGB panel to support the LED screen, which is customisable to keep your eyes entertained.
To be frank, while I have no love for peripherals that blink incessantly, such as light-fitted USB charging cords, I do find the Tivoo’s pixel art very likeable. The 16X16, fully programmable graphic on the screen allows you to “draw” whatever you like with the Divoom Smart app that you can download onto your smartphone. Apart from pixel art creation, you can also edit the 256 LED config for your own lighting effects (bedroom disco enthusiasts, be warned!). Of course, the screen, too, provides a time-telling interface, which means this serves as an alarm clock as well. Frankly, this is such a playable device that I can’t begin to list all that you can do with the Tivoo.
I have to state clearly that if you’re looking for a HiFi audio companion and concerned with output power, you may be in the wrong end of the sound divide. If, however, you are in the market for something that could be as fun as, if not more than, mobile Pokémon, then the Tivoo might be your best AV aide. Not only is it quite future-proof (how about Bluetooth version 5.0, which means less power consumption and wider coverage?), it’s also multi-talented: it’s a DJ mixer, a voice memo recorder, a weather notice service, a game machine, a sleep aid (by producing melatonin-inducing light apparently), and a notifier of in-coming messages from your social media accounts. Seriously, almost everything except the proverbial kitchen sink!
Divoom’s Tivoo pixel art Bluetooth speaker, SGD89, is available at Gadget Plus stores island wide. Photos: Divoom