When iPod speaker docks began to surface a few years ago, we looked at them as a novelty item -- something that you'd splurge on if you had the cash. But now that the and have become ubiquitous, it's getting harder and harder to find a radio or audio system without an iPod dock. Following in the old saying that if 'some is good, more is better', it's only natural for the next evolutionary step of these products to double down on their iPod support.
The NX-PN7 from JVC is one of the first dual iPod speaker docks we've seen. It allows you to simultaneously play and charge two iPods with dock connections. Interestingly enough, JVC does not advertise the PN7 as an alarm clock, but instead uses the word 'timer'. The device has three programmable timers that can be set to go off using any source, but there is no mention of this feature as an 'alarm'. We're not entirely sure why JVC did this, though the curious nomenclature might be because there is no snooze button anywhere on the speaker dock.
We really liked the design of the PN7, which combines a silver-trimmed vintage look with some modern characteristics. For one, the 2.7kg unit allows you to assign one of nine bright LED colours to either dock. While there is no functional purpose to these colours, it certainly does give the system a unique style. That said, some might find it tacky, and there's no way to turn the colours off.
All of the unit's functions can be accessed via a row of buttons on the front lower panel of the speaker dock. The controls are logically laid out and easy to use. Alternately, you can opt for the included credit-card-style remote. Unlike many competing units, the remote allows full iPod navigation. The catch is that you still need to be close enough to see the music player's screen, so it's a bit of a wash.
Measuring 32cm wide by 15cm high by 15cm deep, the PN7 is small enough to be placed nearly anywhere you'd like, including most nightstands or bookshelves. Around the right side of the PN7 is where you'll find additional connectivity ports. There's an audio-in for devices not supported by the docks, and a video output should you want to view a video or photo from a compatible iPod. There's also a 3mm headphone jack for private listening. The PN7 also offers AM/FM radio playback, including the ability to store a whopping 45 station presets (30 FM, 15 AM). However, you can only program and cycle through these presets using the remote control.
The PN7 supports any fourth-generation or later iPod with a dock connection, including all Nano and Mini models in addition to the iPod Touch and iPhone. The dual docking station has individual flaps for each connector that can be folded down when not in use. These slots support dock adapters for custom iPod fitting, but none are included -- you're expected to use the one that shipped with the iPod/iPhone itself. Thankfully, we didn't find the need for additional adaptors -- our second-gen iPod nano and iPhone fit snuggly in the dock by themselves.
When you consider its size and price, the PN7 really delivers on the sound-quality front. The speaker dock is able to create a loud, sharp, and thick presence with very little distortion when played at high levels. We sent a wide range of music through the device. From Green Day's Dookie to Simon and Garfunkel's Greatest Hits, the PN7 handled the variety of music with ease.
We also really liked the 'sound turbo' option, which gives your music a little extra boost in bass. While we were able to achieve the same experience adjusting the bass and treble settings as well, the sound turbo button was a very convenient way to do the same thing. The unit could even hold its own outdoors on a deck or patio, but the lack of battery power means you'll need to be near a power outlet. Not surprisingly, we'd see this unit most at home for casual listening in a bedroom, dorm room, or kitchen environment.
We were a bit bewildered regarding the timer feature of the PN7. This is essentially an alarm clock that can be set for any day of the week (or every day). However, we imagine that since there is no snooze button on the PN7, JVC elected to not refer to the feature as an alarm. Regardless, the timer works fine and can be used with any source the PN7 can play. We didn't consider it a deal breaker, but those who live or die by the snooze function will want to look elsewhere.
Although it retails for around £140 you can find the NX-PN7 online for around £85. We really liked its ease-of-use factor, but most of all it was the sound quality that truly impressed us. If you've got multiple Apple portables -- iPods or iPhones -- the JVC NX-PN7 is a worthwhile speaker dock option.
Additional editing by Cristina Psomadakis