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A few weeks ago we took a look at the Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin iPod Speaker Dock and wow, was it impressive. However, as Riyad said then and I'm about to reiterate: there are many of you reading this right now who will think than £400 is a simply ludicrous amount of money to spend on an iPod dock. I could argue about its relative value until I'm blue in the face but, when all is said and done, £400 is a fair chunk of money and one that makes it a wonderful but largely niche product.
What we want, then, is a set of speakers that come in at a decent fraction of the price of the B&Ws without sacrificing too much in the way of features or quality. It's a trick that's easier said than done, but Gear4 thinks it has the solution with its BassStation iPod Speaker dock.
A quick glance at the BassStation immediately betrays where the design team got its inspiration. From the boxy bread-bin shape to the handles in either side and top-mounted iPod Dock, this is an imitation iPod Hi-Fi through and through. There are several notable differences between Gear4's offering and Apple's, the most important being that Gear4 will actually sell you its speaker unlike Apple, which recently discontinued the iPod Hi-Fi.
Aesthetically, the BassStation definitely wins out. The contrast between the sleek, shiny white frame and the matt black panels works brilliantly. I plugged in an iPhone, an old 20GB 3rd generation iPod and a black Nano into the dock and all three devices looked great. Gear4 supplies a dock insert for every iPod currently released, so you won't have a problem plugging in yours be it a Mini or a Touch.
Just in front of the iPod dock itself, on the top of the speaker, are three buttons controlling volume and standby power. Incidentally these give fantastic feedback both audibly and physically, which reinforces the impression of the BassStation being a decent quality bit of kit. Moving round to the back there is one small niggle, namely the distinct lack of a video-out connector. However, while I won't go so far as to say that watching video from an iPod on a TV is a waste of effort (I'll just heavily imply it instead), I will suggest that anyone wanting to do so would want a smaller dock than the BassStation.