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Apple TV has been out for a while in the UK, but with no real downloadable content to speak of available on the UK iTunes, at around £200 it seems an expensive luxury or even folly, to buy one. A cheaper, simpler alternative is this dock from Belkin, the TuneCommand AV.
It offers similar functionality to the Apple’s AV Connection kit, but the Belkin box can be found for less. The Belkin dock essentially enables you to watch your iPod videos on your TV, or you can just pump out audio to a stereo.
It’s finished in iPod white, with a silver surround round the dock, and grey on the base and on the remote. The remote is rather chunky and enables you to Play/Pause, Skip, control the volume and activate the Shuffle and Repeat functions. One thing you should realise is that you can't browse the iPod menu from the remote, or start videos going – for that you have to go up to the iPod. This means that to skip between videos they have to played from a playlist.
Apple has rather sneakily made owning a dock a feature it can charge for, when ‘back-in-the-day’ it used to include a dock - one was included with my third gen iPod. The dock is a chunky affair and comes with adaptors for a 5th gen video iPod, a 4th gen iPod, a mini and a nano. Round the back you’ll find a power connector – it needs to be plugged in to use - an S-Video output, twin phono line-outs and a mini jack output. This is for use with the bundled cable that provides composite output and stereo phono outputs. It is the most basic connection available and image quality over this connection will leave something to be desired, so it’s not a first choice option. Belkin has usefully also provided a label chart on the underside of the dock so anyone can see at a glance what’s what, but you can easily remove this should you wish.
At the front of the dock is a small dot that lights up in response to remote commands. The remote operates over RF so you don’t need line of sight to control it. While this doesn’t make much sense for pictures and video, unless you enjoy changing channels from another room when someone else is watching telly, it does make some sense for audio. As such, there’s a holder attached to a lanyard so you can carry the remote round with you. If you wish to leave it in one place there’s a stick on pad for the holder. If you do, you’ll get the full benefit of the rubber stand, which will ensure it won’t slide around.
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