While we wait for LG's curious cubiod ND8520 iPod dock to make an appearance, the company is filling the gap with this entry level model. The LG ND4520 is a compact dock that's a little unusual in that it works with iPads as well as iPhones and iPods. It also has Bluetooth onboard so it can be used with other phones and MP3 players that support Bluetooth A2DP music streaming. Priced at around £130, it's designed to be affordable rather than to battle it out with higher-end docks, so it lacks some more advanced features such as AirPlay support.
The LG ND4520 certainly looks a bit different to the average dock. There are two distinct sections to the design. The base of the unit is essentially one large rectangular box covered by a grey metal grill. Cut into this there's another rectangular box, but this is finished in gloss black and sits upright, albeit at a slight rear-ward angle. It also overhangs the side by a couple of centimeters. On the right hand side there's a volume control, power button and a function selector used to switch between the different input modes -- an LED indicator on the right shows the currently selected mode.
The docking connector sits in the middle of a groove that runs through the centre of the LG ND4520. Unlike most docks this one doesn't use inserts to hold your iPhone or iPod in place. Instead the dock connector is mounted on a spring-loaded pivot so it simply moves in and out to accommodate different-sized devices. These are then supported at the rear by a thin rubber strip. As you would expect, the ND4520 charges iPhones, iPads and iPods when they're sitting in the cradle.
The dock doesn't just work with iOS devices, however. It can also be used with a range of other smartphones and portable players. On the rear you'll find a standard 3.5mm input jack to let you feed audio from any external device into the dock. Next to this there's a USB port for playing back music files stored on memory keys.
Of course the other way to play music through the dock is to use Bluetooth streaming. Setting the ND4520 up to work with Bluetooth really couldn't be more straight forward. We tried it with a Windows Phone 7 handset and all we had to do was select the Bluetooth input mode on the dock, turn on Bluetooth on the phone and then select the ND4520 when the phone's
Bluetooth scan picked it up. You don't even have to enter a Bluetooth passcode to get the two communicating.
Using the USB port on the rear is a little bit more complicated. The dock doesn't have a screen – only a mode indicator light – so it simply starts playing the first track on any USB key and continues from there. However, you can download the LG Bluetooth Remote app from the Apple App Store or Android Play for free and this actually communicates with the dock to shows you a full track listing of what's held on the USB drive. It also allows you to switch between EQ modes such as Pop, Rock and Jazz, and control playback via simple transport controls.