Though they are portable devices, the iPod and the iPhone can make wonderful sources for headphone-free music when connected to speakers. Of course, wading through the glut of iPod-ready tabletop speakers on the market today takes patience and know-how, especially if you have an iPhone, which requires a unit with magnetic shielding for optimal performance. Luckily, well-established audio device companies like JBL are providing more and more models with that feature, such as the JBL On Stage 400P. This $250 tabletop speaker dock is the largest of the On Stage line and bests its smaller siblings in sound quality. If you're looking for a cheaper alternative to Bose's SoundDock, this is a good place to start.
The JBL On Stage 400P looks like a scaled-down spaceship, with its oblong footprint and tapered ends. The unit measures 15 inches long by 7 inches deep by 4.3 inches tall, so it's rather large by On Stage standards. Still, it is by no means massive and would fit easily into a dorm room or office setup. A gray, cloth speaker grille, which conceals one 45mm Atlas and four 25mm Odyssey transducers, wraps around most of the shiny black body. As the 400P does not include extras such as an alarm clock or FM tuner, its overall look is quite simple, with nothing but a small JBL logo stamped into the front panel.