When the original hit the market back in early 2005, the iPod speaker phenomenon was a still a fairly new idea. Bose quickly grabbed the audio quality high-ground, and has hung on with the popular SoundDock in an increasingly crowded category without bringing out an upgrade -- until now.
The company has now introduced a portable version, powered by a rechargeable lithium ion battery pack. Bose claims that the drain on battery life with even small changes in volume and frequency response posed big challenges in the development of a lightweight, portable system. According to a demonstration at the media launch, adding 3dB in volume can cut battery life in half and adding one octave of bass will reduce it by a further 75 percent.
Hence Bose claims that the SoundDock Portable -- which has a slimmer profile than the original SoundDock -- sports a completely reengineered electronics package and switching power supply to combine acoustic performance with low power consumption. Bose incorporated its waveguide speaker technology within the unit's handle and its compact speakers also use powerful neodymium iron boron magnets for robust acoustic performance and better bass reproduction than can be found in many other battery powered systems.
Available in black or white, the Portable SoundDock will charge an iPod either when operating on battery power or when connected to its AC power supply. There are touch-sensitive volume buttons on the unit itself or you can control volume, power and playlists via its infrared remote. Its AUX input jack lets you connect other audio sources, such as a CD players, other MP3 players or a PC.
In a quirky, yet fun move, the Bose designers came up with a way to rotate the iPod dock so that it spins 180 degrees to fold neatly into the sleek main enclosure. When you press the dock to open it, you half expect a gumball to come out of the body on the docking port.
The rechargeable lithium-ion battery should run the portable SoundDock for about 10 hours in "normal" circumstances, but if you've got the volume at full throttle for a party, the battery will probably last only three hours, which may clear the dance floor a bit early. You can buy a spare battery, but it will cost an additional AU$149. While we're talking money, this is a Bose product, so it will set you back AU$549, which is at the premium end of the portable speaker market. If you've got any cash leftover, Bose has also designed a sleek carry bag for it for another AU$99. All nice, but you'll be spending nearly AU$800 to get the portable system with all the extras.
Even with the premium price, the slimmer, sleeker SoundDock Portable is almost sure to be a hit as it combines portability with great sound and smart design. If price is an issue but you still want Bose speakers, the original SoundDock music system will still be available for a slightly reduced AU$449.