Sharp i-Elegance Music System DK-AP7N review: Sharp i-Elegance Music System DK-AP7N
Sharp is known for its LCD TVs, but it also makes some audio products. The DK-AP7N portable iPod speaker, which retails for around $99, is part of the company's i-Elegance line.
The little speaker measures 2.6 inches tall by 7.5 inches wide by 2.8 inches deep and feels substantial enough, weighing 1.4 pounds. It has two drivers, a built-in subwoofer, and a sort of capsule design that cracks open like a clamshell to reveal the iPod dock and drivers (the design is reminiscent of the Creative TravelDock 900).
Both opened and closed the system looks pretty sleek, and we liked how the high-gloss black finish on the exterior juxtaposes with the alternate finish of the interior. (The DK-AP7N is available with either white or red interiors.) We appreciated that Sharp threw in protective covers for both the main unit and the AC adapter. That way, if you stow the unit in a backpack or other bag, you'll avoid scratching that nice finish.
The system accepts virtually all iPods and iPhones, as it comes with the requisite sleeves that snap into the dock to make your particular iPod fit snuggly into it. There's no GSM shielding, so you'll have to put your iPhone in airplane mode (turn off the cell radio) or risk running into some interference noise.
If you were hoping for an AM/FM radio or a clock, you'll have to look elsewhere. Likewise, there's not even a basic remote, but you do get a basic (read: yellow plug) composite video output for viewing iPod videos on a TV (cable not included) and an auxiliary audio input for connecting other audio devices, portable DVD players, or a laptop.
The DK-AP7N is powered by an AC adapter or four AA batteries (not included), which gives you about 8 hours of run time. The instructions say not to use rechargeable batteries in the unit, but we don't see why they wouldn't work.
Overall, the sound was decent for a unit this small. Yes, the DK-AP7N sounded a bit tinny and distorted at higher volumes, but the little speakers offered decent clarity at more restrained sound levels and enough bass to keep tracks from sounding too thin.
Sharp included a bit of sound expansion circuitry in the DK-AP7N called "ESound." The button to the left of the dock engages it (three lights come on), but we're not sure why you'd ever turn it off, because the sound quality diminishes considerably when ESound is deactivated.
At $99, we can't say the DK-AP7N is a steal, but if you're looking for a very compact, stylish, portable speaker for your iPod or laptop that doesn't sound half bad (and can be used at home, too, with AC power), this little Sharp is definitely worth checking out.