Purple alert! Purple alert! (What's a purple alert?) We've unearthed an iPod dock that doesn't bore the bejeezus out of us.
Praise be to Roth Audio for conjuring the RothDock from its hat of ineffable talent. It's a completely wireless dock that beams audio right through the ether -- no more blindly navigating iPod menus because the screen's too small and too far across the room to see.
And as if that was appetising enough, it costs a single penny under a hundred quid. We've had one in for quite some time now and we concede we're impressed. You get two things in the box: a dock to stick your iPod in and a small receiver that outputs audio via 3.5mm or RCA cable. It works right out of the box, using a Wi-Fi connection, not Bluetooth -- no 'pairing' of dock and receiver needed. Don't worry, it doesn't use your home network or anything, and you don't need any kind of Wi-Fi-enabled modem or Internet to use it.
There's little more to explain, to be honest. If you've got a small hi-fi in your kitchen and don't want a dock cluttering the side, this is ideal, as you can leave your iPod playing in another room. Or if you've got a little table next to your sofa, your iPod and dock can sit there while they fire music to your music system elsewhere. You can even plug in a mobile phone or laptop via a 3.5mm line-in socket, and any audio will be sent to the receiver. We tested it, and it works beautifully.
A couple of things to be aware of: firstly, the dock doesn't offer an auxiliary output for wired connection to a hi-fi. Also, we weren't blown away by the system's build quality. At all. In fact, Ian asked, "This is some kind of pre-production prototype, right?" There's no problem as such, it just feels nastily cheap and lightweight.
Finally -- and this is from hi-fi nut to hi-fi nut -- we can't vouch that songs encoded in Apple Lossless will retain their quality after being sent over the air. Wireless technologies such as Kleer (as used in Sleek Audio's SA6 earphones) retain audio fidelity bit for bit, but the Roth Dock doesn't promise this same retention of data. If you don't know what we're talking about, this isn't anything for you to fret over. Neither is it an issue if you're only using MP3s or iTunes Store downloads. The only people who need be aware are those ripping CDs in lossless qualities.
We've got a bunch of photos over the next few pages. Safe to say our conclusion is clear: it's fabulous value, works beautifully, and despite a budget build-quality, it gets two highly enthusiastic thumbs up from us.
The dock has space for your iPod dock adaptor, but no black ones come in the box. Or indeed any at all. You'll need to use the white one that came with your iPod, and it somewhat tarnishes the aesthetic appeal of an all-black system.