You may recall that we rather liked Philips' DS9000 speaker dock. Our interest was piqued, therefore, when we heard that a smaller, cheaper derivative was on the way. It's called the DS3000, and at less than £55 it is, indeed, much cheaper than the DS9000; in fact, it's arguably the better buy.
Not that we're suggesting the DS9000 isn't worthy of its £400-odd asking price, but for many people that's simply too much to countenance. The DS3000, conversely, is priced at a much more attractive level, but without much sign of compromise.
Take the outer design, for example, which we thing is fairly attractive. The warped-toroid shape is similar to the DS9000, albeit in more compact dimensions - 210mm x 150mm x 135mm to be precise. From the dock to the top of the speaker is about the height of an iPod touch (one of these will just peak over the top), so the DS3000 isn't particularly imposing. The device is available in silver or black, and the we'd pick the latter as the so-called silver is more of a muted grey to out eyes, which while not unattractive isn't the prettiest shade going.
An interesting design feature, which we didn't expect to see, is the presence of a battery compartment on the bottom of the DS3000. This will hold four AA batteries, which should provide in the region of eight hours of playback. It's a smart edition, as the compact size of the DS3000 makes it suited to be ported about - the hole in the centre even makes a half-facsimile of a decent carrying handle.
We like the volume controls on the front of the DS3000. Whether that's because of their TR-livery orange backlighting or the reassuringly mechanical click they exhibit on use we'll leave you to debate. With so many other manufacturers resorting to touch-sensitive controls, which invariably fail to work properly, we think it's good that Philips still seems to understand the benefits of 'real' switches and toggles.
Aside from batteries, the DS3000 can also be powered with a traditional AC adaptor. Next to the power port is an aux-in for use with a non-iPod source device. We were disappointed to learn that the USB port on the DS3000 doesn't let it work as a USB speaker when connected to a computer. However, it does let the DS3000 function as an iPod dock, so you can sync new music using the DS3000. We tried out a range of iPhones and iPods and all of them worked flawlessly.