In a nutshell the addition of Absolute 3D combined with the 6.1 arrangement are by far and away the best elements of the new Lenco IPT-223. As Cypher said to Agent Smith in the Matrix: "ignorance is bliss" and if you simply ignore the computational wizardry going on you will find the pseudo-surround-sound environment it creates is extremely impressive, both for music and DVD playback.
The effect also has the knock-on benefit of creating a much bigger, room-filling sound than its predecessor and reduces the need to position the IPT-223 in a specific sweet spot. Of course given the tower has a footprint smaller than most table docks and doesn't require a surface to rest upon it can be positioned just about anywhere. Still being able to pick the location based on aesthetics without worrying about acoustics is a major bonus.
Dispersion is good, but what about the quality of the audio being thrown around the room? Here we hit a snag. The Lenco IPT-223 has noticeably more bass-heavy signature than the IPT-2 and it is also slightly more powerful with strong highs, but the midrange is weak by comparison. Midrange is typically the most neglected aspect in a currently bass obsessed world, but it adds depth which cannot be fully counterbalanced by the 6.1 heroics going on nor the adjustable treble and bass. Will the mainstream notice it? Probably not, but then we come to the other thorny issue: price.
When the IPT-2 launched at £150 it was a price/performance revelation, but the sonic overhaul, licensing and additional functionality have pushed the IPT-223 to £239 - a £90 jump. Furthermore the IPT-2 arrived at a time when class leaders like the Arcam rCube cost £500 and the Monitor Audio i-deck 200 was £400. Today these products carry official RRPs of £350 and £250 respectively and are representative of a sector which has dramatically slashed prices while continuing to push boundaries.
As such the Lenco IPT-223 is no longer a bargain. It is well priced, but for those who simply want great audio the Monitor Audio i-deck 200 is the better buy and Audyssey's £299 South of Market and Lower East Coast offer compelling wireless alternatives for those prepared to spend a little more. Lenco has entered dangerous territory in standing toe-to-toe with established giants of the sector and it just about pulls it off, but the IPT-223 required a sub £200 price tag to genuinely ruffle feathers.
The Lenco IPT-223 is not so much a successor to the impressive IPT-2 as a re-imagining of it with bolstered audio and far greater functionality. It is a dock, DVD player and soundbar all rolled into one and its enhanced 6.1 output is surprisingly impressive. Against this is the dated styling, a slightly weak midrange and a £90 price hike that places it within range of super docks from industry heavyweights. For those making use of all its features the IPT-223 is a fine purchase and something genuinely different, but Lenco is now swimming with sharks.