iPod Dock 8-Way Battlemodo

It's that time again, kids! What time, you ask? Time for the iPod Dock Battlemodo where contestants from Bose, Sony, Altec-Lansing, Logitech, Klipsch, iHome, JBL and iLuv battle it out to the death.

One trend that seems to be taking place in the land of iPod docks is that companies seem less concerned with the high end, hi-fi iPod docks. Instead, they're gravitating towards smaller, lighter docks that sound nice, but are intended more for casual listening. Both Logitech and Klipsch are putting most of their weight behind these smaller docks, and Altec Lansing said the average iPod dock consumer isn't looking for overwhelming audio performance as their main reason for buying one. In our testing, we checked out:

Altec Lansing InMotion Max
Bose SoundDock II
iHome iP71
iLuv i398
JBL OnStage 400p
Klipsch iGroove SXT (NOTE: Updated product specs for refreshed iGroove SXT not on Klipsch site yet)
Logitech Pure-Fi Anywhere 2

That said, we still went looking for the iPod dock that sounded really good while sticking as close to the $US200 mark. Some were much cheaper, or much more expensive, but most of them all had something interesting to offer. Ultimately, overall audio quality had the most weight in helping to pick our winner, but price, design, and the usefulness of smaller features were also taken into consideration:

The Winner:
JBL On Stage 400p: At $US250, the On Stage 400p is a bit more expensive than some of the other docks, but it sounds so nice, it was impossible to give top honours to anyone else. It uses a 30w sub to push out the low end, while delivering another 30w of power to the tweeters for the highs and mids. And though it might not wow anyone with its design, it's nice enough that you don't have to hide it in your living room. Just might want to wait till it goes on sale later on.

The Runners Up:

Bose SoundDock II: It's no huge surprise why the SoundDock II out performs the rest of the field: at $US300 , Bose's accessory is outfitted with better hardware. But is the sound quality worth $US100 than the rest of the docks? And what's the chance you'll ever find it on sale?

Altec Lansing InMotion Max: What the InMotion Max lacks in booming low end, it makes up for in precision audio tuning and a light, slim design. Two 2-inch drivers are bolstered by two, 2-inch passive radiators which sit directly above. The result are nice mids and highs that offer much better sound than the 14w power rating would suggest. Other nice little touches include song info that appears in the backlit display, capacitive touch buttons (which include <</>> controls), battery power that lasts 3.5 hours, and a spring loaded ipod dock connector that slides out. Well done.

Honorable Mentions:
Klipsch iGroove SXT: The new, revamped iGroove SXT (hitting stores this July) packs a lot of punch into a compact bundle. Enhanced acoustics and a dedicated amplifier for each driver give the SXT a nice, deep sound, but sometimes the high-end clarity suffers. Still it's hard not to like this one, and Klipsch is phasing out its bigger iGroove, so this is it if you love Klipsch.

Logitech Pure-Fi Anywhere 2: Coming in at a lower price point and smaller size than most the other docks here, it's hard to compare it sonically because most the other docks are bigger and more expensive . But the Pure-Fi Anywhere 2 does manage to improve over the original Pure-Fi Anywhere in the sound department and does what few other docks can do: Travel around easily with a 10 hour battery life. Besides, the larger Pure-Fi Dream system may sound better, but its clock-radio interface leaves too much to be desired.

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