JBL has been coming out with quite a few iPod docks as we saw recently with the Onbeat and On Time 5V. We weren't very impressed with them and seeing Altec Lansing's M202, there might be some more options for users. The Octiv Duo aka M202 claims to play two iPod Touch/iPhone devices at the same along with some other nifty features.
Design and Features
Shaped like a quarter pie, the M202 might not look anything like JBL's docks, but in terms of looks, these are not half bad either. The dock has a nice wooden finish to it giving it a fresh different feel to it. Although most of the docks that we’ve seen are nice to look at, they still have that plastic feel to it. Au contraire, this one looks classier.
Classy looks and a snazzy remote
Facing the front of the dock, there are two full range neodymium drivers for a stereophonic effect. Also, next to either driver, there is a slit for a port. Over the M202, there are two little depressions that are meant to hold two iPods or iPhones. In front of them, there are small lights that are meant to indicate which of the two devices the source is. A third light in the center is meant to indicate whether your music is being played by some other media player connected via the Aux-In jack.
Speaking of the Aux-in jack, there’s a DC power port next to it and this is followed by a USB port. The USB port doesn’t act as a source, so it’s basically an additional feature for charging mobile devices. Another nifty concept is a cubbyhole behind the dock which is acts as a magnetic holder for the M202’s round remote. In quite a few ways, this little holder can definitely save a lot of trouble provided you make sure that the remote goes in after you’re done listening to the dock.
Competition for JBL
The remote control is small, round and light weight and is quite attractive to look at. The buttons are a little unconventional, but after 2-3 hours users will get a hang of it. Initially, there was an issue with the remote’s response but we later figured that the remote control did not have IR sensors around it, the player needs to be positioned correctly for the remote to function well.
Finally, Altec Lansing has an app for the iPod Touch and iPhone (with iOS 3.0 and higher) called “Music Mix”, specially made for this dock which lets users integrate the playlist of both devices! So, while both Apple devices are getting themselves juiced, one can be used as a source to access music playlists of both devices. The other app is an alarm clock app called “Alarm Rock” where you can wake up to your favorite song.
We first set up the dock with two iPhones. After you plug your device in, you’re immediately prompted to download either of the free Altec Lansing apps. After downloading the Music Mix app for both smartphones, we gave it a run.
The Music Mix app has a simple interface and a slider at the top that lets you set a ratio of the number of songs you want to hear from either device. For e.g. if you set it to 50/50, half of the songs from either device will play. If you like the songs from one of these devices more, you can give that device a chance to play your major share of songs.
Remote holder and USB port is well thought of
While the app is easy to use, they should have added an option to access complete playlists from both iDevices. That way, users could have selected their absolute favourites from any iPod Touch/iPhone. Another point to note is that you need either an iPod Touch or an iPhone with the app installed so as to access both playlists. The other one can be your basic iPod Nano or Classic as well.
Coming to the dock’s ability to churn good quality music, we found that it can deliver music, loud enough for a living room. While the distortion is visible when the volume is increased beyond 85, it plays quite clearly otherwise.
We noticed the highs to be quite prominent and similarly the mids are loud and clear, as well. Same goes for the bass which is audible but then, the dock not having a sub-woofer, the thump in the bass can only be felt within closer proximity to the dock.
In closing, a good iPod dock for your living room
Altec Lansing offers the M202 dock at a price tag of Rs. 6,990. In comparison to many iPod docks that have been reviewed before, this one seems to be more affordable. The M202 gives satisfactory performance and has some nifty features like the Music Mix app, a USB port for charging and the usual Aux-In port to play other media devices. In comparison to JBL’s OnTime 5V and the Onbeat, this one does much better. Another good option for an iPod dock is Logitech’s S715i iPod dock which will cost you Rs. 8,000 and doesn’t have such features, but scores higher in terms of performance.
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