Entertainment Dock 500 for iPod
If you're looking for an elegant way to send iPod music and video to a home theater, give some consideration to Kensington's sleek--if pricey--A/V dock. The Kensington Entertainment Dock 500 for iPod has the made-in-Cupertino look we love, along with solid audio and video connectors. It also has a remote that lets you take complete control of your iPod. However, the remote's so-so construction and the steep $100 price tag (look for bargains online) give us pause.
The Kensington Entertainment Dock 500 looks as sleek and elegant as Kensington's earlier, except it's a bit bigger. The ice-white base has a pair of wide, rubberized feet on the bottom and a depression with a male dock connector in the top front of the base. A sturdy metal bar wraps up and around the back of the base, serving as a holder for the palm-size, AAA-battery-powered remote. On the back of the base, you'll find a minijack A/V output, an S-Video output, and an AC power port. Connecting the Entertainment Dock to your TV is a simple matter of attaching the included A/V cable to your set's RCA-style video and audio inputs, or you can use your own S-Video cable if your television has an S-Video input.
Once we plugged in the Kensington Entertainment Dock 500, attached our 30GB video iPod (the dock charges the iPod as it plays), and switched its video settings to TV Out, we navigated to the pilot episode of Desperate Housewives, and voilà--the sights and sounds of Wisteria Lane appeared on our set. Using the RF remote's four-way navigational mouse--plus the Select button, which serves as the iPod's menu key--we managed to back out of our show and tee up a slide show, complete with music. We were impressed by the remote's ability to take control of our iPod; most of the third-party iPod-dock remotes we've seen only pause the music or video, skip tracks, and adjust the volume, not browse the menus. That said, the Entertainment Dock still isn't perfect. When you navigate the menus, your TV screen will be blank, so you must rely on the iPod's screen for your visual cues. Our other gripe is that the remote seems cheaply designed: The buttons on our review model looked misaligned (if usable), while the battery cover was annoyingly difficult to pry open. We got about 30 feet of range from the remote, which is more than adequate for most living rooms.
Video and sound quality through the Kensington Entertainment Dock 500 are as good as we've seen using Apple's A/V cords, with no sign of noise or interference. Of course, you can always get an Apple dock (featuring S-Video output) and remote, or similar docks such as, and accomplish the same thing. However, the Kensington boasts more navigation control.