Given that the iPhone and iPod are more popular than turkey at Christmas, it's understandable that there are now hundreds of iDevice-friendly speaker docks on the market. It's fair to say that sound quality varies substantially across different brands and models, though. To help you avoid buying a duff dock, we've gathered together this list of five of our favourite iPhone and iPod boomboxes.
Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Air
It retains the big blimp look of the original B&W Zeppelin, but this model adds support for Apple's Airplay technology into the mix. That means you can pump tunes directly to it from your iDevice over Wi-Fi. Inside there are five speakers in total, four 25W drivers and one 50W driver, and they're angled so as to perfectly flood your whole room with noise. Bass response is very impressive, mid-range has excellent clarity and even at higher volumes it holds on nicely to hi-hat cymbals in the higher parts of the mix. It's expensive, but superb sound quality and excellent design make the Air worth the money.
This is a compact speaker dock for iPhones and iPods with lightning connectors. It has a sleek circular shape that Philips says allows it to create 360-degree omni-directional sound. We particularly like the design of the lightning connector as the tilting docking post is spring-loaded, so your device is automatically pushed back against the translucent stand to help it stay in place. It's pretty loud for its size and has enough punch to fill smaller rooms. It sounds strongest in the mid-range so acoustic material comes across best, and it's probably ideally used as a decent bedside speaker.
JBL OnBeat Micro
Another miniature dock that's suitable for iOS devices with lightning ports, this is designed to sit on a desk or bedside table and it delivers pretty big sound for its compact size. It houses two speakers, but they're mounted quite close together so it's best to use JBL's digital processing to help widen the soundstage slightly. As with other smaller docks, it's got most poke in the mid-range, but there's also enough bass to deliver a bit of kick on techno and hip-hop tracks. All in all, it's a great little bedside dock and charging station.
Bose SoundDock 10
This is larger and pricier than previous SoundDock models, but it's still fairly compact compared to many other docks we've reviewed. We like the clean, understated design -- there are no buttons on the dock -- as it gives it a classy, minimalist look. Inside there's a woofer for low-end rumble and two drivers for mid and high frequency sounds. Thankfully, the woofer delivers plenty of bass and overall the SoundDock 10 produces really good sound that's rich, detailed, and well-balanced. It's expensive, but if you want good sound from a smaller dock it's a good bet.
This gorgeous speaker dock is shaped like an egg that has been split in half, tilted at an angle and had a whole punched out of the middle. So not much like an egg, but visually it works. We like the fact that it can be run from four AA batteries as it means you can use it outdoors and the battery life is good as it lasts for around 8 hours. The tilting lightning-connector is spring loaded, which helps to hold your iPhone steadily in place, but the DS3205's biggest strength is its sound. Its audio is clean and crisp, but with a decent amount of punch to the bass.