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I have now purchased both older and newer designs of iPod Nano my wifes took so long to get delivered, what with one false start and another that a new model had emerged before I could get my hands on one.
However, with a pair of the little blighters, being only cosmetically different (oh yes, and the newer one has a better battery), there ought to be a fair commonality in accessories, youd think, wouldnt you?
Well youd be partly right, but there are exceptions.
Im not sure what you know of iPods dockability, but some while back Apple decided on a common interface socket for iPods which, whatever their size and capacity does the same job, i.e. it brings all connections except the headphones into one spot. Thus charging and synchronising with a PC and sound/vision playback to other devices are all dealt with in the same way.
GEAR4 HOUSE PARTY II
This means that devices like the Gear4 House Party Mk II can be used with all known dockable iPods.
Whether Hi-Fi> Speakers is the right spot for this opinion is a matter for conjecture, since its also a synchronisation dock, complete with USB port and cable, and a stereo amplifier both for an iPod and for the playback of non-Apple personal stereos.
The only problem this gives you is where to place it.
a) Siting it next to the PC allows you to use it as a synch dock and charger iPods charge through their USB leads. (You dont need to play an iPod back through a PC since your iTunes library on the PC can do this anyway, and itll have all the same stuff on it).
b) Putting it elsewhere, e.g. the kitchen allows you to use it as a ghetto-blaster (and STILL charge the iPod).
I just got mine from a Tesco Extra store for £39 which is seemingly £10 cheaper than elsewhere, but now that Ive opened it, I think I know why. If you havent got a new-style iPod Nano, this neednt worry you, but Ill come on to that later, since it does concern me, having both types.
Its available in black or white to suit your iPod, although those with iPod Minis and the newer-version Nanos with their anodised metallic finishes will have trouble finding a decent colourway. If Linda Barker reads this, perhaps she could emulsion it to the right colour for them.
Build-quality is good with a hefty central unit, built in a gentle backwards curve, the twin speakers being covered by a silver grille. The iPod sits in a little tray out front in the centre well most do sit exactly centrally, but the dinkiness of Nanos requires them to have their docking port slightly off-centre. The underside of the main unit has a large area of non-slip rubber attached which adds to the overall air of staying-put-ness.
A subdued blue LED shows whether its on stand-by or full on (it flashes on stand-by), and three small buttons allow for raising and lowering the volume, plus the master on-off switch.
So with damn-all controls, how do you navigate your iPod then?
Easy with the very slim remote control supplied, thats how.
This allows for full navigation of the pod but one thing it cant do is make the iPods display readable from the other side of the kitchen. You can also adjust the volume from here. There are no tone controls anywhere on the unit, although you can adjust the iPod itself to the tonal range needs of different music types.
Sound quality, the acid test in any bit of kit like this, is pretty good certainly up to kitchen ghetto-blaster standards and nothing starts to reverberate at high volumes yet more evidence of a good build-quality.
It has to be said that it lacks the punch of the Bose unit that looks alarmingly similar, but it also lacks about £200 of the Boses retail price too! Therefore, despite the old adage, you get what you pay for being true here, this still feels like forty quid very well-spent.
Now lets look at why I got it so cheap from Tescos when all other outlets are charging between £48 and £68 for it.
Quite simply, the new Nano doesnt fit it (YET, but Im working on it).
Ill explain. Gear4 have supplied this unit with an impressive array of iPod dock adapters. These are just plastic plates that fill in the gaps around the iPod once plugged in to take account of the many shapes and sizes. I assume they also offer support to the iPod taking the strain off the docking terminal. Put quite simply, my Gear4 version just does not have an adapter for the new iPod Nano, although the older style fits like a glove.
Im not anticipating this being much of a problem to overcome, given a bit of careful use of a power file to enlarge one end of the existing Nano adapter the new Nanos dock adapter seems to be a millimetre or two offset compared to its predecessor.
Of course, if this is an issue for you, make sure youre buying new stock, but be warned, it wont be costing £39.
Integral 2x15 watt amplifier.
Remote Control (battery included)
(Nearly) all iPods catered for.
Rear connections USB synch port, miniature stereo jack analogue sound input for playback with other personal stereos and 12 volts DC in.
Mains adapter in plug supplied with UK and continental face plates (interchangeable). There is no provision for running it from batteries only.
USB and stereo lead supplied.
The best small-room speaker system available for under £99 MacWorld July 2006
Best featured speaker system available at the price Nuts June 2006
Unbelievable price for such a great speaker system M8 June 2006
Bear in mind that most of these reviews were written in consideration of a cost of £50-ish. £39 must make them even better!