Value. It has arguably become the most important score in reviews. A product can be good or bad, but if it is impressive in relation to its price then that alone can turn an average device into a highly desirable one. So what about an excellent product that has had its price slashed?
The Monitor Audio i-deck 200 is such a case. The big brother to the £299 i-deck 100 we reviewed in October, it has had its original £400 RRP spectacularly cut to £250. This not only makes it cheaper than the i-deck 100 launch price (itself now cut to £200), but places it in an entirely new price bracket. This poses two important questions: do we have a £400 dock for £250, or an overpriced dock that is now closer to its true value?
Out of the box signs certainly suggest the former. The i-deck 200 is very well built. Its curved design is similar to the JBL OnBeat and TEAC Aurb SR-100i, but the finish - despite the use of plastics, instead of wood or metals, is far superior to both. The triangular patterned rear is a notable talking point (as is the questionable inspiration for the glossy front gap which separates the speakers), but the quality of the thick, rubberised base, well fitted panels, reassuring power and volume buttons and smart, Zeppelin-esque spring loaded floating dock mount are beyond question.
In particular the dock is worth attention. By floating clear of the speaker's body it does away with the need for different inserts for specific iDevices and it is strong enough to hold an iPad - a product many docks can't accommodate. Furthermore the sprung dock connector both holds iDevices securely against the rubberised back and, like the arms on spring loaded glasses, allows them to be removed easily and without risk of damage. Should the dock connector break, the unit can even be swapped out without needing to send back the entire dock. Clever.
At 545 x 250 x 210 mm and 4.54Kg the i-deck 200 isn't going in your bag, but it is light compared to the competition (500g less than an Arcam rCube for instance). Some of this weight may have been saved due to the relative lack of functionality - there is a 3.5mm auxiliary input, but no AirPlay, wireless streaming or battery. That said few will be complaining about the audiophile focused internals.
The core of the i-deck 200 is made up of dual 100mm C-CAM 4in bass drivers individually powered by custom-configured 50W amplifiers and a brace of 25mm gold dome tweeters, driven by 20W amps. That's a 2.2 arrangement akin to the Soundfreaq Sound Stack and producing a whopping 140W in total, putting it in Zeppelin Air territory. Given Monitor Audio (formed in 1972 in Essex) has an illustrious history in loudspeakers, we expect good things to flow forth from this little lot.