We all love iPods, iPads and iPhones. iPods have now been available for over a decade, and their popularity has yet to decrease. All of these gadgets need regular charging and the easiest way of doing that is using a dock. They come in all shapes and sizes, from ones which only charge it, to ones which have speakers and ones which allow you to interface with your whole home music system.
I have owned many docks over the years and in this article I hope to show you how to get the best iPod, iPhone or iPad dock by considering the different factors in buying one. If you like this article you may also want to check out my articles on Apple's new phones, why I think the iPhone can improve so much and reasons why you might not want to buy an iPad.
When choosing an iPod dock you need to work out whether your iPod dock is going to be powered by batteries or plugged into the wall socket. If it runs off batteries, what type and what cost will that involve? You also need to find out whether it will charge your iPod or iPhone, as some docks simply maintain the charge rather than recharging the battery.
This is additional features above that of charging and playing music. One of the most essential is a remote control, and how they interface with the iDevice. Many, including the official Apple one, only allow you to go to the next song, previous song, volume control and play/pause. More advanced remote controls may allow you to favourite tracks, turn the device on or off, or change the playlist.
You may also want to consider if the dock has a radio, alarm clock, suitable for a bathroom or wet environment and if it has auxiliary port to enable you to play music from a laptop or other device. You may also want high-quality outputs to use with a stereo system if your dock only offers charging. You should also check to see whether the dock offers any iPod apps, as they can often add more functionality such as an alarm clock.
Sound quality is an important when choosing an iPod or iPhone dock. A dock with small speakers can easily be used in a dorm room or bedroom to create a good sound. But a large kitchen and dining room may cause a problem for these smaller docks, and so you may have to upgrade to a larger system. Having controls for the tones, such as bass and treble controls, are useful as well as it lets you change the sound to your own liking.
The best way of checking the sound quality is to test it in a good, quiet environment. Buying from a specialist hi-fi store may allow you to listen to the devices with your own music to give a good comparison between them. If you do this remember to allow the equipment to warm up, and give half an hour for your ears to adapt to a quieter environment than the noisy one of your car.
The sky's the limit with iPod docks. They can be bought cheaply from many supermarkets or purchased online the several thousand dollars such as the Sonos iPod dock. You must carefully consider your needs, the sound quality and the features on offer when you make a decision. Also consider how long you expect the dock to last, as the march of technology will continue and a new iPhone in two years might not work with the dock you buy today.
As the technology in iPod docks does not move as quickly as the iPods themselves, bargains can often be had. Make sure you look at the sales in local hi-fi stores and online, especially for high-quality brands such as Bose, Sony and others.
You should now know how to choose an iPod dock. By making a mental checklist you can evaluate which dock is going to be the best and most suited to your needs.
Which iPod dock is your favourite? Have you bought one for a Christmas or birthday present? Do you look for any special features when choosing an iPhone or iPod dock? Please write a comment below if you do.