When does an iPod dock stop being an iPod dock? When it weighs 10kg? When it has a subwoofer the size of a child's head? When it costs $US600? Whatever you do, don't ask Bose.
Bose's newest SoundDock sit a few notches above any of its stablemates, both in size and price—this thing is as heavy as a nice stereo receiver, and about half a metre tall. (Asked about the size, a Bose engineer said that he liked to think of it as transportable, not portable. Uh!) They've done something kinda cool with the dock connector, which can be swapped out to suit different players, or, if you've got an extra $US150 laying around, a stereo Bluetooth adaptor, which feels like it should've been built in there in the first place, honestly.
Anyway, portability isn't really the point here, since this thing is meant to sit on a table—probably a well-polished one, in an immaculate, nautical-themed sitting room—and pretty much fill the role that the Wave radios used to: To be smaller than a proper stereo, but not to sound like crap. In fact, there's a lot of shared DNA there, since the SoundDock 10 uses the same scrunched audio waveguide piping that made the Wave radios sound, well, kinda big. And for what it's worth, the SoundDock 10 sounds even bigger, mostly thanks to this:
This here lump of speaker accompanies two "Twiddlers," which is Bose speak for "tweeters that do midrange, too, we promise". Together they throw respectable sound, which is surprisingly powerful at the very low end, and phenomenally clear in the rest of the range, most of the time. Classical music, Bose's demo genre of choice, sounds predictably great, but anything noisier, like rock music, starts to blend together, reminding you that you're still listening to an iPod dock. Which you are!
That's the obvious hangup with the SoundDock 10: It's $US600, and it a dock. Granted, it's easily the best iPod dock I've ever heard, but it's still recognisable as such, and it's not that much cheaper than a real two-speaker stereo system. But hey, it's also a dock in the good way—it's easy to connect things to, to move around, and it won't clutter up your room with wires—so if those are your top priorities, docks don't get much better than this. The SoundDock 10 will be available from September 21. [Bose]