Review: AirZone Series 1 iPod Dock
By Mike Wheeler
Any major retailer will tell you speaker docks are a dime a dozen. Whether it be Harvey Norman, JB HiFi, Dick Smith, you can walk in and see stacks of options on the shelf, so if you’re a vendor in the market, it’s a good idea to get one that stands out from the crowd.
The Airzone Series 1 Speaker Dock from Gear does have it moments, but does it make a statement, such as “pick me!”? On the surface no, but underneath there is one thing that a lot of similar fare doesn’t have, that I’ll get to soon enough.
Let’s look at the functionality. It doubles as both an iPod dock and a radio. I’ll address that latter first. I had a heck of a time trying to get the radio to work, but the machine was trying its hardest to get my blood pressure up and nearly succeeded as it refused to do as it was told. I ended up having to something that is the bane of all men – reading the instructions. Right about now, anybody reading this review will go “Well, d’uh! Of course you have to read the instructions.” Fair play, but might I add that of all the products I have reviewed over the past three years I’ve only had to read the instruction manual on few occasions, and never when it comes to iPod docks. Is that being a bit pedantic? Probably, but I do think that most set-ups should be straight forward.
Admittedly, we’re not in an ideal spot to receive the FM frequency, but I would have expected it to at least try and find a radio station or two, but after about five minutes, nothing, nada, zilch. Eventually it did pick up one of the stations, but it wasn’t in English so I wasn’t too sure if it was music station or community radio. After five minutes, no music was playing, so I assume it was the latter.
Ok, about the important stuff. The sound. Not too bad at all. Had the unit cranking at full noise, and while there was slight distortion on one track, I put that down to the over-zealous bass combined with a distorted guitar, so it was bound to stretched to the nth degree. With just normal music, I liked it a lot. As with any unit like this, and at the risk of repeated myself from similar reviews I’ve written, this will not be a substitute for your top-end stereo parked in your lounge. But I really thought it handled everything I threw it at bar the aforementioned track that had the distorted guitar.
But the one thing that it did have that I really like, is the options to play your iPod. The most obvious is the ability to put it in the cradle provided at the front of the unit. But you can also use a cable and plug it into the back of your iPod and then the Airzone unit itself. Finally there is the Airplay feature, which allows you to stream your music from your iPod wirelessly. This is the main selling point of the device, and it certainly lived up to expectations – no drop out of signal and it meant I could put the dock in one place while walking around the house and being able to change the music on a whim.
Other things of note are the clean silver mesh-like façade, a volume control on top, and some rather frail-feeling buttons that have various functions including putting the unit in the right mode, searching for FM stations and pause.
Overall, not a bad little gadget with few flaws, that sides squarely in the middle of the plethora of docks available at the moment.
Pros: Good sound, offers many options for playing iPod; price
Cons: Set up could be easier, no USB slot
3.5 Shacks Out Of 5