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Docking Station GuideiPod docking options for the home or office
With a huge share of the portable MP3 player market, Apples iPod has moved beyond the solitary figure sitting at the bus stop to the living space of the home and office. In order to share the love with the rest of your friends, family, or co-workers, youll need some type of docking/speaker system. Consumer Electronics Nets Stephen Schleicher has a run down of some of the popular docking stations on the market.
NOTE: For true audiophile sound, frequency response of a speaker system is critical. The range of human hearing ranges from 20Hz to 20kHz with the lowest note on a bass guitar coming in at 40Hz. It is also important to note that you are playing music from your iPod, and most music is a compressed MP3 file which means you are probably losing out on some of this sound anyway.
iPod Hi-Fi - $349.99
This is the latest docking station direct from Apple. This giant speaker can run off 2 D batteries or AC. Simply place the iPod on the top dock and off you go. The iPod Hi-Fi includes a remote for volume control and track selection. At a whopping 17x6.6x6.9 this is more of a shelf system than a portable boom box. With a frequency response of 53Hz to 16kHz Steve Jobs claims it produces such great sound he is throwing out his expensive audio system.
Klipsch iFi - $400 list $300 street
Depending on where you look, the iFi could easily be the most expensive docking system available. Instead of a single speaker, the iFi includes two wall mountable or self standing RSX-3 satellite speakers and an 8 subwoofer. With a frequency response of 65 Hz to 17 kHz this one is almost on equal footing with the iPod Hi-Fi. But with the ability to move the speakers to your configuration makes this a nice system. Probably one highlight of this system is the RF remote which can control the iFi through walls and floors, meaning you can make adjustments from just about any room in the house.
Bose SoundDock System for iPod or iPod mini $299.99
Bigger than the iPod Hi-Fi (16.0 x 20.0 x 12.0 inches), the Bose SoundDock claims to bring the rich full sound to your iPod collection thanks to the technology that has made Bose famous. Bose designed the SoundDock to expand and enhance music stored on your iPod or iPod mini. A remote is included to control the iPod from across the room and will charge the system while your music plays. Bose if very quite about the technology behind their sound gear, so dont expect to get tech specs from this unit any time soon.
Kensington SX 2000 - $159.99
This is an interesting docking system that was just introduced this year at the Consumer Electronics Show. Like other systems in this guide, the SX 2000 has a speaker that will fill your room with music, but unlike some of the other systems, the speaker on the SX 2000 is really thin. Using NTX Surface Sound technology, the best sound occurs when by sending the signal out of the front and back of the speaker. When placed close to a wall, the sound bounces off and fills the room. Kensington does not provide any frequency response information on this unit except to say ?Produces superior frequency response (better highs and lows) at higher volumes than similar speaker systems.
JBL On Stage Speakers for iPod $129.99
This UFO shaped dock spreads the music throughout the room thanks to its circular shape. Measuring at 7 in diameter and kicking out 6 watts per channel thanks to four Odyssey drivers and computer-optimized equalization, the JBL On Stage claims to provide rich, full-bodied sound with a frequency response between 80Hz 20kHz. The only controls on this dock are the volume controls, which interestingly will remember your last volume setting even if the unit powers down. There is not a remote or controls for changing tracks. The On Stage comes with adapters to fit most iPods, however the unit does not support the iPod Shuffle.
iHome Clock/ Radio for iPod - $99.99
If you like listening to your iPod as you drift off to sleep, but would also like an alarm to wake you up in the morning, check out the iHome Clock/Radio for iPods. Small 2 speakers with a Reson8 sound chamber can produce a sound that you may not expect from a small unit. A programmable sleep timer lets you fall asleep to your favorite playlist, and with the Gradual Wake feature the music gradually increase to ease you into the morning. If, for whatever reason, you dont want to listen to your iPod, there is a built in AM/FM radio built in as well. The iHome Clock/Radio will run off AC or two AA batteries.
Logic3 i-Station Dock and Speaker Station for iPod $84.99
The Logic3 i-Station looks more like a toy than a high quality docking station, but with a frequency response of 100Hz-20khz, most users will find this unit meets their needs. Like most of the docks in this list, the Logic3 chargers your iPod while playing music, and can run off AC or 4 AA batteries. You can even use this docking station to connect to your PC or Mac for transferring music. Weighing in at less than a pound, the i-Station is portable and compact enough to fit anywhere in the house. If you dont have an iPod, the i-Station will also work with other MP3 players, MiniDiscs and CD players.
Kensington 33164 StereoDock Charger and Transmitter $64.99
This Kensington dock is cheaper than its big brother, but unlike the SX 2000, this unit doesnt sport speakers. Instead it transmits tunes to your stereo system. Transmitter type systems can experience interference depending on where you live, or where the unit is placed, but for those on a budget, this may be the best solution.
iPod Universal Dock $39.99
Ive only included eight docking stations in this list, but I would like to offer one that many might not consider. The Universal Dock that you can purchase from the Apple store allows you to connect your iPod to any stereo system that supports RCA inputs. This may be the ultimate solution as you can spend as much or as little on your stereo system to get the sound you like. Throw in a remote for an additional $29.99 and you have a docking station that could compete with just about any other system on this list.
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