A quick glance at my inbox will tell you that the iPod dock market is over saturated, with manufacturers pumping out different varieties of iAccessory faster than we can review them. Some choose to differentiate themselves by feature-set, others by design and some compete on price alone.
At £169 the Edifier Breathe is far from cheap. Weighing in at 5 kg, the unit has a certain amount of heft to it and feels solidly constructed. The sparse play-skip-volume button-set on the front makes it abundantly clear that this is a no-nonsense device, with a limited or focused feature set depending on your point of view.
The unique qualities of the Breathe therefore are its design and sound. Moving away from the classic boom-box style design of most iPod docks, the Breathe has, what pretty much every review I’ve seen, including this one, is calling an eggshell design. It looks a little odd … but strangely seemed to work on one of my living room tables and also in the kitchen. People would comment on this. Depending on your taste this is a good or bad thing.
The supplied remote is an odd puck-shaped device that is a little too basic for my liking. Navigation is done via the a menu button and arrow keys – in a style reminiscent of the iPod classic – but it’s almost impossible to navigate without looking directly at the screen of the iPod. It’s also directly line of sight – which can make it a touch fiddly. It’s also very easy to place your finger over the infra-red sensor, blocking remote signals.
Most importantly of course is the sound quality. Audiophiles will be disappointed, but disappointment is intrinsic to their existence so that’s not a massive criticism. The Breathe promises room-filling sound – and more or less delivers on this. For something that is relatively, small it has a pretty impressive bass punch and would be fine for a small room, student digs or a living room. It is also incredibly straight forward to use, with an almost idiot proof button set.
If the feature-packed trappings of other docks leave you cold – not everyone wishes to use DAB or stream over DLNA – then the Breathe’s combination of simplicity and reasonably impressive sound should be up your alley. Minor quibbles about the remote aside, if you like the look of the Edifier Breathe, then it is definitely worth taking a listen.