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Bowers & Wilkins, Fatman, & Grado

As you'd hope there were a number of companies demonstrating their wares that we're already well familiar with so for an easy start we made a beeline for their stands. First up was Bowers & Wilkins that had an impressively stark stand dedicated to its unique Zeppelin iPod dock. My hopes of seeing a pair of the equally unequalled Nautilus speakers were dashed though, as it quickly became evident the Zeppelin was all B&W had to show.

Making a bit more of an effort was Fatman, the makers of the stonking iTube range of iPod docks. Nearly the whole product range was on show and what a beautiful site it was.

In particular, a couple of new models were being demonstrated. First was the 452, which will be available in March for the not inconsiderable price of £1,250. As the name suggests, what the 452 brings to the party is more power - 2 x 45watts to be precise - so if the previous Fatman best of 2 x 25 watts seemed a little weedy for your liking, the 452 should be right up your street.

Fatman's upcoming 452 iTube amp.

The other new model was as an as yet unnamed wireless version of the iTube dock. This has apparently been developed with the iPhone in mind, as the wireless connection eliminates the annoying clicking noises you get when a call or message comes through, though it can still be used with any normal iPod. There's no price or availability yet but expect it to be around the £400 mark and in the next few months.

Though we've never actually reviewed them Grado headphones have had a worthy mention on our pages before so it was another stand that caught our eye straight away - especially as it was a free for all to try even the most expensive phones. Unfortunately, the environment was far from ideal for listening to a completely open-backed headphone (as they don't block external noise) so while the quality of the S1000's and SR60's was quite evident, discerning the differences was not even worth trying.

Grado's S1000, SR-60, and iGrado headphones.

The biggest disappointment, though, were the iGrado's that, as well as having an infuriatingly stupid name, are appallingly made. The cables are thin and unwieldy, the plastic headband felt as flimsy as something you'd get free on an international flight, and the general look and feel was not just low-cost (as the £40 price tag would suggest) but full on cheap. Hopefully if we get some in for review we'll be able to tell you that all these shortcomings are more than made up for by their sound quality but I think they'll have a hard time of it.

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