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.
On a more positive note, we had no complaints about the sound when watching videos. We checked out authorized (read: legal) digital versions of "Bolt" and "Horton Hears a Who," as well as Netflix and the SlingPlayer Mobile app for iPad. The sound was decent. For bedside or kitchen watching, it's more than adequate.
In the end, the Octiv Stage MP450 is really all about design. Though it has a basic feature set, most people will use the iPad's massive app library to turn it into a small entertainment center, customized to their liking. Need an alarm clock? Run Altec's free Alarm Rock app (or any of the dozens of competing apps, if you prefer). Want to hear music? The Altec lacks a built-in FM radio, but that's irrelevant--just load up Pandora, Last.fm, or shuffle up your iTunes library. Ready to veg out with some video? Watch live TV via SlingPlayer or Dish Remote Access, or queue up Hulu Plus, Netflix, or the ABC app. And all the while your iPad's getting juiced up, so there's no battery drain.