In an age of ultra thin laptops and even skinner smartphones the notion of 'more for less' has become a motto of the modern gadget buyer. This is something embraced by Swiss audio specialist Lenco which has come up with a compact Apple dock which also claims to double up as a CD player, radio, video output and surround sound system for less than £230. Is this another case of more for less or false economy?
Out the box our initial leanings move towards the former. Lenco is a brand looking to move away from its budget origins and the 'IPD-9000' is its biggest step to date with neat, minimalist styling that could have come via Denon's design team. This look is centred on the attractive facia whose metallic finish is actually metal and the tasteful blue-lit LED display and lighting around the slot loading CD player and oversized volume knob.
Frustratingly this look is not continued throughout with the rest of the IPD-9000 constructed from matt black plastic. This two tone approach creates a slightly jarring appearance from any angle but straight ahead, though construction is solid and it certainly catches the eye.
The IPD-9000's design may be minimalistic but its functionality is not. The aforementioned CD playback is an increasingly rare and therefore increasingly welcome differentiator. Meanwhile connections along the back include the usual power, auxiliary in and another fast disappearing feature: an FM aerial, but they are backed up by the more unusual site of a composite video output. This allows video playback on an attached iPhone or iPod touch to be outputted to a TV with the audio coming from the IPD-9000.
In this scenario it is strange Lenco didn't opt for a DVD rather than CD player as it did with the IPT-223 or adopt video codecs (only traditional CDs and MP3s encoded discs are supported). Further omissions are DAB radio instead of FM and, more disappointingly, any form of wireless connectivity in an era when Bluetooth and/or AirPlay is a near prerequisite. As such the IPD-9000's surprising additional functionality is rather let down by its more obvious omissions.
Still with any audio device what everything comes down to is sound quality. On paper the IPD-9000 offers a healthy but not overly impressive 65W total output comprised of two 10W side-firing drivers and a 45W rear-firing subwoofer. The approach here is to prioritise sonic distribution rather than out and out volume and this is aided by Lenco's licensing of Sonic Emotion's 'Absolute 3D' spatial sound technology.