Obviously, the key question with the BeoSound 8 has to be if any iPod dock can ever really be worth £895? But its aesthetics and remarkable build quality do much in themselves to start justifying such an outlay.
Even the actual dock point on the BeoSound 8 is a work of art. A lovely-looking circular white ‘prop’ looms beyond the aluminium crossbar, onto which you rest your iPod as you slide it onto the slightly raised docking slot. This is mighty cool already, but the little prop also has a very handy trick up its sleeve: namely that it doesn’t just support iPods. It can also comfortably hold iPhones and best of all, iPads. While Arcam’s rCube supports the iPad via a wireless connection, the BeoSound 8 is, to our knowledge, the first speaker dock able to handle an iPad slotted straight into it. In fact, not only can it support the iPad’s extra size and weight without any problems, but it even manages to still look drool-inducingly lovely while it’s doing it.
Yet more coolness – as you can see, it’s really got our tech geek adrenaline pumping – comes from the circular ‘rocker’ control panel hewn into the centre of the metal bar dock mount. As well as looking and feeling rather lovely, this minimal approach to control works a treat (so long as you have the unit mounted on a stable surface).
The circular shape raised hopes that it might support the classic ‘circular swipe’ control system pioneered by Apple’s portable music products, but even though this doesn’t prove to be the case we seldom found ourselves feeling frustrated by the controls available.
Naturally the BeoSound 8 also ships with a remote – and wouldn’t you just know it, this remote is a lovely little ‘cut out’ replication of the circular metal-fronted control panel on the main unit. We’re so sad about this sort of stuff that on a couple of occasions we actually found ourselves just fondling this ultra-cute remote even when we weren’t actually using the BeoSound 8. Tragic, we know, but there you go.
And still we’re not done with the BeoSound 8’s aesthetic extravagances. For you can also get the grilles over the speakers in any of six optional colours: Lavender Blue (dilly dilly), purple, green, yellow, black and white. The only colour we could bring ourselves to contemplate was the stylishly neutral white one, but if you’re of a, um, ‘funkier’ persuasion, then given how much real estate the speaker grilles occupy within the overall design, you really can adjust the look and mood’ of your BeoSound 8 quite radically.
The BeoSound 8’s iPad compatibility isn’t its only feature claim to fame. For a start, it also carries a facility that lets it adapt its sound to different rooms. Even better, you can now download a free BeoSound app for your iPhone or iPad that lets it stream Internet radio channels into the BeoSound 8 when docked.
The list of radio stations available with the free app is limited, it must be said; an upcoming update will open the world of Net radio at large, but only if you pay for it. At least the channels B&O have selected for the free app do cover a pretty comprehensive set of musical tastes – though only two are UK-based.