iPod Dock Reviews & Tips for Christmas Shopping

Altec Lansing Octiv 650Updated for Holiday 2012 - Everyone needs an iPod dock for someone on their Christmas list in 2012. Well, almost everyone. Here is a list of sites reviewing the latest crop of iPod speakers for the holiday season, and our favorites. The following list only includes sites that concentrate mostly on docks that play music from your iPod touch or iPhone. Next week we'll talk about speakers that also allow internet WiFi radio.

Things to Consider When Choosing an iPod iPhone Speaker Dock

What size are the drivers? Most will have drivers in the 1" to 4" range. In most cases bigger is better. Look for docks with a mix of high and mid drivers, with a separate woofer for better bass

How many drivers? More drivers may mean better sound. Most units with only two drivers, one for each channel won't deliver as smooth as sound as ones with multiple drivers. As just stated, at least one high and mid are required, but 2 or 3 mids, even if only 2" each may deliver a smoother mid-range. Of course a separate bass driver is critical for bass response.

Wattage and Amps - Although in most cases how many watts the amps have for iPod speakers won't matter much, look for something at least 10 watts per channel and 25 watts for the bass. Highly recommended are units that have separate amps for the subwoofer. This reduces the need for the stereo amps to be high wattage. Remember that nothing this small will create room shattering bass but you want some satisfying lows  that are smooth and cover a respectable range of frequencies.

Blue tooth & Airplay
Not every dock is a dock. What I mean is you don't need to actually connect your phone or ipod to a speaker to get the music there. With bluetooth or Apple's AirPlay you can wirelessly connect to many "speaker docks" without physically connecting your device to the speaker. This is great when you want your device with you. Keep thing to keep in mind: Blue tooth is only useful if you are within 30 feet of your speaker dock, but usually will work with both Apple and Android; AirPlay will work anywhere you have WiFi in your home but won't work with Android. Either way, no wires may be how you want to roll.

Features - Most units will not have bass and treble controls, let alone an EQ. But some will. Since your iPod has some EQ controls this should not be a show stopper. Look for a unit that can easily dock your iPod or iPhone, charge it, and offers a secondary input for non-iPod users in your home.
  • Clock Radio needed? Be sure to look for ease of use as many are difficult to program.
  • Need to run on batteries? Some will be rechargeable, consider these if you move it around the house frequently.
  • Remote control? Most will have them but some less expensive units may not
  • Speaker phone? Will the unit function as a speaker phone if you receive a call?
Size and Placement - Better sound usually means bigger size. Nothing really small is going to give you really full sound no matter what the reviews say. Expect larger units to generally out perform smaller ones in sound quality and quantity. Some may be wall mountable while others will only fit on a table or Kitchen counter.

First up also shows up on Google first, CNet's review page that was updated in August of this year. It covers some of the best docks out there by the big names.

CNet Reviews
Tech Radar - though it covers products in the EU, some are available here and you can learn about features
Top Ten Reviews - Though I find the reviews bogus since this is purely and affiliate marketing site, the charts are useful.
Amazon top Products and Reviews- Though not a review site itself, I find the reviews on Amazon to be the most reliable since they are from users. Be sure to read the reviews and not just look at the start ratings since someone may be dinging a product for not having a feature you don't want or need.

That's it. Happy shopping and Happy listening.

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