The perennial elegance of Apple products - iPods, iPhones, iPads, etc - has inspired an enormous spin-off industry in designer iThing 'accessories'. For instance, even the most serious of electronics brands has gone all 'fancy' to bring us all manner of weird and mostly wonderful iThing speaker docks. And now we find perched on our desk a new iPod/iPhone speaker dock from no less aesthetically renowned a source than the design studio of Sir Terence Conran.
Cunningly called the Conran Audio Speaker Dock, it certainly looks unlike any other iThing dock before it. For starters, a steeply angled top half contains a recessed circle in the middle into which you slot your iThing, while the grilled bottom half contains 2 x 15W speakers, with a pleasingly smooth, heavy-duty finish taking up most of the sides and rear. The right side as you look at it sports a large, stylishly illuminated volume dial, while the left side thoughtfully has a place for slotting in the dinky and attractively minimalist remote control when you’re not using it.
The bodywork and remote can be bought in either black or white finishes, with the white version having a tasteful wood-finished base and the black version a grey one.
Another cool touch is a slim LED strip light running for most of the dock’s width just above the wood/grey base. This isn’t just decorative either; it’s also used to help you switch between the dock’s six built-in EQ modes: Normal, Jazz, Pop, Rock, Classical, and Acoustic. You hold down a couple of buttons on the remote simultaneously and the strip goes into 'spot' mode, illuminating in sections that each correspond with one of the EQ modes.
The obvious desire to keep the Conran Audio Speaker Dock looking as minimal as possible (as in, no LED readout) has also led to functionality doubling up on the volume knob. For you also use it (by pressing it) to select which of the dock’s three audio source options you want to use, with the knob’s illumination changing colour to show which source you have selected. The three sources available are the iPod/iPhone/iPod touch dock, a provided line input, and Bluetooth.
What’s more, we’re not just talking about normal Bluetooth here, but rather the new aptX Bluetooth audio streaming system, claimed to deliver 'CD Quality' sound from aptX-enabled devices. These devices include all Apple Macs running software from OS X 10.6.4 onwards, the Creative Ziio tablet, and numerous upcoming 2011 products, including many portable devices from Samsung.