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Philips Fidelio DS3020 review

Andrew Williams



  • Recommended by TR
Philips Fidelio DS3020


Our Score


User Score


  • Excellent sound quality for size
  • Cute design
  • Good feature spread


  • Fabric front reduces on-the-road skills

Review Price £49.97

Key Features: 3.5mm auxiliary input; Optional battery power; MiniUSB for PC sync; 10W power; Neodynium speakers

Manufacturer: Philips

The Philips Fidelio range is one of the best iPhone docks series you'll find, home to such classics as the DS9000 - one of our all-time favourites. If you don't want to spend almost £400 on a dock though, the DS3020 may be more up your street. It's a tiny little throne for your iPhone or iPod, and can be found for less than £50 if you shop around, and proves that a small stature and small price doesn't necessarily entail a small, weak sound.

In keeping with the design of the rest of the Fidelio range's wares, the Philips DS3020 is an exceedingly curvaceous little number. Its back could be a cutaway from a shiny, glossy white sphere of plastic, while the front blossoms out like the end of a brass instrument. Part sumptuous, part simple, Philips has aced a balance between cuteness, minimalist design and all-round "lifestyle-leaning" good taste.

The front is covered in grey fabric that's only interrupted for the lollipop of brushed metal near the bottom, home to the Philips logo and volume controls, the dock connector and a small rubber buffer to rest against your device's back. The dock socket moves forward and back slightly on a hinge, enabling the DS3020 to take on iPads as well as iPhones, iPod Touches and iPod Classic players.

A large power button sits on the top of the dock, amid the shiny white plastic of its back half, but it's not visible from front-on and so doesn't spoil the styling of the otherwise unadulterated design. We think it's damn cute. Like a little designer chair for your iPhone.

The small footprint ensures that while the design takes its own looks seriously, it's nevertheless very practical - small enough to fit on bedside tables, or even between the microwave and toaster in the kitchen. Take off the plastic plate on its bottom and the practicality of the DS3020 gets another boost. It covers the battery compartment. Although it's primarily to be used as an at-home dock, this little wonder can also be powered by four AA batteries (offering up to 8hrs of playback).

Thanks to the rip-able fabric front and the slightly bulbous design, this isn't a hugely portable dock. It even offers a miniUSB slot to connect the dock to a PC in order to enable on-dock sync'ing. But for occasional social gatherings in the garden, or perhaps camping trips, the battery feature could come in very handy.

One final notch on its features bedpost is the auxiliary 3.5mm input, letting you plug in other devices easily, such as smartphones or (shock horror) non-Apple MP3 players. None of these additional features intrude on the design of the Philips DS3020, and yet functionality-wise they're absolutely those we'd pick for a device like this. A video output is something we'd likely never use on a dock this size and an iPhone or iPod Touch can take care of alarm clock functionality itself. Philips even offers this functionality with its free Fidelio app, available from iTunes.

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August 1, 2011, 11:49 pm

How does this compare to the Sony SRSGU10IP speaker dock in terms of sound quality? Both can be had for £50, the Sony is slightly bigger (but still ok for a bedside table) and has 20w power. I bought the Sony last week, but my daughter wants a dock now, and so it will be something in the £50 range like this, an iPig, or such like.


August 2, 2011, 2:26 pm

Hi ChrisC,

We haven't had that model in sadly - but judging by the other Sony docks we've had in recently, there's a good chance the Fidelio might edge it. The Fidelio looks great on a shelf/bedside cabinet too.


August 2, 2011, 4:57 pm

I bought the bigger brother of this dock, the DS8500 and I just thought I'd bring up some issues that may plague this model.

Whilst the sound quality was fantastic, when an iPhone 4 was plugged in, the unit made a crackling/popping noise when playing music (only noticable with quiet/classical/vocal music). But still terribly annoying. This did not occur with an iPhone 3g or other players using the AUX-In. With the iPhone 4 plugged in via AUX, it sounded like my music was being played underwater.

For those that think it might have been a problem with my iPhone, I went to the apple store and tried a multitude of docks from low to high end, and no issues.

The Fidelio App. If you choose not to install it on your iPhone, it prompts you every single time to do so. Additionally the sound is terrible without the equalizers set (which is done without the app automatically) yet only configurable once inside the app.

Once inside the app, if you turn off all the adjustments the sound is very weak.

These issues meant I had to return the unit as whilst the sound quality was astounding for the price (better than a bose sound dock) Philips often designs excellent products with some major flaws. A Philips SAD light I own for example, has an off switch to turn off the radio, but not the light. And requires resetting every night as opposed to automatically performing this function.


August 2, 2011, 5:05 pm

Sorry to hear that! We had the DS9 in recently and that didn't seem to have any problems (It was mostly tested with an iPod Classic/iPod Touch 2nd gen), so perhaps they've fixed a few issues. The DS8500 is still the Fidelio model I see most commonly out on the high street though.

I have a Philips SAD light too. Not had any problems with that but I bet the bulb will go at some point.


August 2, 2011, 9:59 pm

AndrewTR - The bulb is exactly the type of design flaw that Philips either builds into their products intentionally (planned obsolescence) or overlook when engineering new products. Funnily it's always the simple issues that are overlooked.

With my SAD light it's an issue that the designers didn't think that when the user turns off the alarm/radio after waking up, they want the light off too. But they turn that into two separate functions. Plus the snooze/off lever is one of the more befuddling design/function decisions I've seen in modern electronics. Instead of a gigantic alarm snooze button you get a tiny lever you need to set to snooze, off and then reset. Plus it's hard to remember or even see which state the alarm is set to.

I just hope people seeing this item with a 9/10 score do not assume it's an instabuy as they often are with TR. Philips products are the sort where you often think to yourself "Great product, but why did they do THAT?"


August 3, 2011, 2:56 am

Indeed - I read up about the bulb and general failure issues around Philips's SAD lamps before buying, but decided to take the leap anyway.

The DS3020 strikes me as a relatively simple device though, and wouldn't hesitate recommending it as a simple "shove in and play" device. It's good to hear any particular concerns about these kind of units though, so we can factor them in with future reviews.

Hamish Campbell

August 3, 2011, 11:52 am

Maybe it's a bit pedantic, but from what I've read the new batteries in phones perform better if kept topped up. Previously it was important to run from full to empty regularly but this seems no longer to be the case.

Not sure about the constantly charging when already fully charged thing though, perhaps that is still an issue....although why that can't be dealt with I don't know.


November 2, 2011, 5:20 am

the philips fidelio ds 3020 appears to have just one speaker. is that accurate? can you reccomend a similiar product with 2 speakers for stereo sound? thank you.

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