Review Price £349.00
The only fly in the portability ointment is that the SoundDock weighs a not-insubstantial 2.34kg, but this heft hints at the speaker's principal strength. Clipped to the rear of the slimline chassis is a high-capacity rechargeable 2,200mAh lithium-ion battery. This charges while you've got the SoundDock plugged in, and it'll supply juice to the speaker while you're away from the mains.
It's a brilliant solution if you want to listen to a few tunes in the garden and can't be bothered too get the extension lead out of the shed. It won't cost you a fortune in alkalines as with so many other portable speaker systems, and you can even buy spares. The battery can quickly and easily be detached from the rear of the dock and swapped with a new one.
What's more, it sounds pretty good for a portable speaker system. It's not a paragon of high fidelity excellence - it would be churlish to expect a small unit such as this to be so - but it's about as good as you could expect it to be. It goes loud enough to be used outside without distorting. It can deliver decent dollops of punchy, focused bass without sounding too flabby or overblown. And it deals with most types of music, from the complex swirling wall of sound that is Sigur Ros' signature to John Williams' elegant yet simple Spanish guitar, without getting flustered.
I fed it everything from Metallica to Muse and had not a single complaint. The sound is a little too warm and fluffy-sounding at times, and compared to a proper hi-fi separates system sounds boxy, but these aren't really comments that are fair to apply to a portable system.
A more serious concern with the Bose SoundDock was that the supplied remote control is pretty useless. It has play, pause, skip track and volume buttons on it and even what look like a couple of menu buttons. But with an iPod nano plugged in, the latter failed to work in any kind of sensible way, and left me with no way of browsing the iPod's music library. You can't even activate shuffle mode with this remote - in fact the easiest way of picking the tunes you want is to do it on the iPod itself. And this proves fiddly with it standing in the SoundDock's cradle.
The main stumbling block with the SoundDock isn't anything to do with its design or sound quality. In fact, this is a well-designed rechargeable speaker system that does the job it's designed to do well, notwithstanding the ineffectual remote.
It's the price that really sticks in the craw: £280 is a lot for most people to spend on their main hi-fi system, let alone one to put in the kitchen and use in the garden occasionally. And purchasing accessories will bump that up even further. The bag is £40 and if you want a spare battery you'll have to fork out an astonishing £70. Good though the SoundDock is, it's certainly not worth that much.
Scores In Detail
- Sound Quality
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