When we got our first glimpse of Altec Lansing's Octiv Stage MP450 docking speaker system for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod, we were pretty intrigued by its design--it reminded us of the old armature G4 iMacs.
Basically, once you've docked your iPad, the built-in "rotating connection arm" allows you to adjust the iPad to be viewed in portrait or landscape mode at multiple viewing angles. When you place it in an almost flat position, you can even type on your iPad while it's docked.
Altec Lansing has geared this accessory ($149.99 list) toward people who want to watch video on their iPads--whether it be in the kitchen, bedroom, or anywhere else--and the company has built the speaker with that in mind. The company says its Audio Alignment technology "provides distinctive center channel voicing and enhanced stereo delivery for distortion-free performance even at full volume." The system also has a 3.5mm auxiliary jack for connecting additional audio sources.
As far as features go, that's really it. There's a power button and volume controls on the front of the speaker, and you get a small remote. We would've liked to see the USB port found in the Octiv Duo for charging phones and other portable devices. And some might like a pass-through USB port for syncing your iPad with a computer.
Those minor gripes aside, what we were hoping for was better sound. The bass is rather thin, and our music just didn't sound all that vibrant or detailed, although the quality was acceptable for casual listening.