The growth of people with all or most of their music collections on iPods has led to a massive explosion in the number of accessories on the market. But the rush to make money out of iPod owners has become a little silly of late. The infamous iPod bog-roll holder is an example of technology gone mad, but other companies producing otherwise serious products are just as guilty of iPod obsession. It makes me grind my teeth whenever I see an ad from a car manufacturer proudly boasting that the latest model of its 20-grand family hatchback is iPod enabled. It's a 3.5mm audio input socket, for goodness sake!
One of the biggest growth areas, however, has been in the eminently more sensible iPod-enabled hi-fi category. The best we've seen so far has been the B&W Zeppelin that Riyad reviewed earlier in the year. The daftest has been the TwinMOS Boom China, with its vase-shaped sub-woofer.
Now it's the turn of another big name - Bose - to get involved with its SoundDock Portable. And, thankfully it's far from foolish. It's not adorned with silly flowers and it doesn't have bright flashing lights. In fact the SoundDock's sloping, slightly curved frontage is pleasingly minimalist. The only light is hidden away behind the speaker grille: it activates when the dock is switched on and off, when the volume is increased and reduced and hides itself at other times. The only controls are a pair of touch-sensitive volume buttons on the right hand edge - and if you didn't know they were there, you'd probably not notice those either.
The SoundDock is eminently practical in ways other than plain aesthetics. Though it's quite wide and tall (307 x 175mm) from the front, it's only 103mm deep. This means it's easy to pop down at the back of a kitchen worktop or on a mantelpiece without having to clear much space. It's a clever, flexible and unobtrusive design.
The speaker's rear-firing bass port doubles up as a handy carrying handle at the top rear of the unit making it extremely easy to pick up and carry around from one location to another. And the iPod docking cradle itself smoothly rotates and locks into the main chassis for transport - once you get to where you're going just press the drawer in and leave it to glide luxuriously smoothly back out into place. The latter takes pretty much any iPod you care to throw at it too (apart from the Shuffle), charging it while playing back. If you don't own an iPod you can connect any other player you fancy via the 3.5mm stereo line input on the rear.
Even the power adapter has thoughtful design elements. You can wind the cable around a slot moulded into its rear - a rubber nodule at the end of the power cable enables you to lock the cable in place. If you were to stick this in a bag with the dock (there's an official shoulder bag available as an optional extra for £40) it'll keep the cable tangle to a minimum.