Back in the day there used to be lots of speaker docks for iPods and iPhones. Now we get Grace Digital's CastDock X2 ($150), a speaker dock for Google's highly-rated Chromecast Audio Wi-Fi streaming device.
I've been playing around with it for the last few days and it certainly is an elegant solution for integrating a Chromecast Audio unit -- sold separately for $30 -- right into a speaker (you usually have to attach it to an audio input and have it sit outside the speaker).
What's nice is that the dock has a Micro-USB connector that provides power to the Chromecast Audio and an optical audio cable creates a digital connection. However, I should note that this isn't a portable speaker with a built-in rechargeable battery. Rather, it has to be plugged in.
As for the sound, it's decent but not exceptionally good for a $150 speaker (it plays loud and has some kick to its bass -- it's just not the most well-defined bass).
The WiFi connection is supposed to provide higher-quality sound but in a speaker this compact, you don't get much of a performance bump over Bluetooth. And weirdly, the speaker doesn't seem to offer a Bluetooth connection, which means you have to buy a Chromecast Audio to wirelessly stream music to it.
According to Grace Digital, here are the key features incorporated into the CastDock X2 and Chromecast Audio (sold separately):
- Listen to over 30 million songs from over 100+ cast-enabled music apps like Pandora, Google Play Music, Spotify, and iHeartRadio
- Enjoy higher quality sound
- Play music everywhere with multiroom feature
- Play music without interruptions
- Mirror music from a laptop or Android phone
CastDock X2's specifications:
- 50 watt digital amplifier with electronic crossover
- Frequency response: 60Hz - 20KHz
- Wave Maxxaudio DSP tuned to match custom speaker drivers
- Digital optical connection supports high-resolution audio, up to 24-bit, 192-KHz
- Switch for selecting R / R+L / L (allows you to use two Chromecast Audio devices and two CastDock's for stereo sound or to place in separate rooms)
- Auto play / auto off when music is streamed
- Integrated mute button
- Rear mount screw option
- Price: $150 (but on sale for a limited time at bestbuy.com for $100).