The original Bose SoundDock is a popular choice for iPod owners -- it offers a more impressive audio experience than many other competing systems. With the SoundDock Portable that performance can be taken on the move thanks to a beefy battery pack. But at £280, does the added portability justify the £80 premium?
Our immediate impression of the SoundDock Portable was that it's stunningly well-built, and weighty too. It's encased in a tough, glossy plastic with a metal mesh covering the speakers. It also has a sturdy metal base with rubber feet, for that won't-budge-an-inch goodness. The iPod dock built into the front of the system rotates like those spooky mansion bookcases in Scooby-Doo. It's spring loaded, too, so it'll rotate outwards without any help.
To the rear there's a hand-sized handle-cum-reflex port, a useful 3.5mm line-in socket and, would you believe it, a power input socket. But what's most interesting around the back is the massive removable battery pack. It's big, it's powerful and it can be detached if it needs to be replaced. At 387g it's seriously contributing to the Portable's weight, but it can be recharged, so it is at least chunky for a reason.
If you want a powerful portable system, this could well be the one for you. It's extremely loud and capable of driving clear audio up to ear-splitting levels. Sound is driven by two paper drivers backed by neodymium magnets. Overall, sound quality has a bright feel to it -- highs are favoured over bass, though low-end performance is clear and distortion-free. The powerful kick drum heard on Pendulum's Out Here was well driven, though bass lines that run through the track were less audible.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers' Sir Psycho Sexy helped highlight the SoundDock Portable's high-volume capability and general clarity. Snare drums were punchy and clear, while the funky guitar tracks cut through the air with superb tone. There's a good deal of separation between the two audio channels, which is often not the case with systems such as this.
As for battery life, check back soon to see how long it kept pumping for in our lab tests. And for those of you with iPhones, iPod classics, touches and nanos -- yes, they are compatible with the SoundDock Portable.
There are much lighter, more easily portable iPod docks out there and at considerably lower prices. The SoundDock Portable earns the title of 'portable iPod dock' because it can run without a power supply, but if all you're after is a battery-powered iPod system you can shave off a good £150, although you will sacrifice sound quality. It's not possible to run the Portable off over-the-counter batteries.
Touch-sensitive volume controls sit on the right-hand side of the system and are maddeningly unresponsive. There's just no need to implement such a technology on a system like this; it's painfully frustrating. Still, there's a good remote control with proper buttons that click and everything.
It's an expensive choice, but it's right up at the top of our list of favourite portable iPod systems. We really don't think it's fairly priced, given its twin paper driver technology, but the original was costly too. With this in mind, the £80 premium for the added portability is justified as this is an incredibly powerful and decent-sounding iPod system.
If you're after something to slip in your rucksack on a camping trip or similar, consider Gear4's lovely StreetParty Size 0 -- it runs on over-the-counter batteries and has a nice sound to boot.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Nick Hide