Last New Year’s Eve, I decided not to mingle with the hoi polloi and, instead, threw a party at home for a smattering of friends. Since my wife’s birthday falls on 1 January, it was more reason to be merry. So the good cutlery and table linen were brought out, some nice Cape wines and single malts stocked up (Old Monk and Budweiser for the philistines). Food was catered from that shining paragon of Sino-Ludhianvi cuisine of the Mumbai suburbs—Mainland China. Now music can make or break a party, but I was confident that the 30gigs of tunes—including Pascal in Bollywood—in my ageing Apple laptop would carry the day.
Since my grand plan of streaming music wirelessly to the speakers failed spectacularly (blame Murphy), I hooked up the laptop to a set of Creative 2.1 computer speakers, and the music was adequately loud and punchy through the night. The thing is that the whole set-up looked a bit tacky with power cords and speaker wires trailing all over the floor, not to mention the plain-Jane, plasticky speakers. Now if only I had the newly-launched Bose SoundDock Portable iPod speakers that I have been blasting for the past week.
In my humble opinion, the original Bose SoundDock was, and still is, one of the best iPod speakers on the market. The SoundDock Portable is similar not only in heft and size to the AC-only version, but in both sound and power too; it’s the loudest and best-sounding thing out there by far for its compact size. Of course, at Rs25,000 (approx.), you may question your sanity in buying one, especially if you’ve had a look at your stock prices lately.
SoundDock Portable has a metallic front panel that complements Apple’s latest aluminium-faced iPod Nanos and iPod Classics. A multicoloured status light blinks behind the minimally styled, austere front grille, and depending on which colour model you pick, it has either black or white glossy plastic casing on the top and sides. The touch volume controls are on the system’s right side, and the remote control features two playlist-switching buttons in addition to simple iPod and power controls. You can skip tracks forward and back, pause and play tracks, raise and lower the volume, and turn the speaker off. Just remember, you’ll need to walk up to the unit to see the iPod screen if you’re looking for a particular song.
A welcome addition is the auxiliary input port enabling iPod shuffles and other PMP devices to perform through the speakers. Sadly, there are no video output or radio features on the SoundDock. The lithium-ion battery is rechargeable and easily removable by pushing and turning a pin on the back. Bose reckons you will get anywhere from three hours of playback at full volume to around eight hours with normal usage. I also like the fact that the unit will continue to charge your iPod even when it is not connected to power supply.
The SoundDock Portable produces big sound from a relatively small frame—it measures 6.8x12.1x6.1 inches (height-width-depth) when the docking tray is closed. At a hefty 5.2 pounds (about 2.3kg), the portable tag may be a misnomer, though I can foresee it making more trips to the studio for my photo shoots than to weekends to Goa. I was quite blown away by the SoundDock’s audio performance, with crisp details in the mids and highs and a tight bass. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this dock for classical or jazz purists, but the SoundDock Portable delivers a punchy sound for the rest of us that will probably be more than enough to rock your holiday parties, and is certainly loud enough to fill my living room. In fact, my New Year’s party playlist from L’Freak to Icky Thump played at LOUD volumes in the office had the rank and file muttering mutinously.
The Bose SoundDock Portable is an easy-to-enjoy, good-sounding speaker that will please all but the most demanding users, limited more by its premium pricing than its performance characteristics. Scheduled to launch this month, it’s an expensive choice, but it’s right up there at the top of my list of favourite portable iPod systems.
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