Bayan Audio Soundbook: Wireless Audio Dynamite

Bayan-Audio-Soundbook

I’ve seen more wireless music docks than I’ve had fish suppers, and I don’t think that my lifelong vegetarianism detracts from that statistic. Some, dare I say most, ellict a certain sense of ennui, but even I was excited to hear about the release of the Bayan Audio Soundbook – a small speaker powerhouse that brings something new to the table.

The 15W speaker uses aptX audio compression so the sound quality if far more detailed than certain larger speakers I’ve come across, with a decent level of bass as well. There’s also TDMA noise rejection to eliminate interference from other nearby electrical equipment.

The Soundbook is quite compact and designed to be neatly tucked into a bag and pulled out during picnics or camping trips. However it can also be used in the boardroom as there is an integrated microphone that allows for hands free conference calling (I’ve only ever done hands free conference calling in a board room).

The ballistic nylon cover also doubles as a stand and comes in Silver/Turquoise or Charcoal/Burnt Orange. But the cover also triples as an on/off switch so you simple close to preserve battery life and “open to play”.

The Soundbook uses Bluetooth 4.0, so can deliver 10 hours of streaming wireless music on a single charge. The Soundbook also has NFC paring so all the non-iPhone owning smartphone users can revel in one-tap ease of use. Of course AirPlay would be nice but the Apple-only streaming technology literally carries a premium.

The Soundbook also has an integrated FM radio with an invisible aerial. I grew up on Radio 4 so have a soft spot for the radio and am glad it’s included. DAB would be nice but if you’re pairing with a smartphone, you have access to most digital radio shows away.

Soundbook from Bayan Audio will be priced at £149.99 including VAT and will be available to buy at bayanaudio.com from 7th July 2013.

Five top speaker docks for the iPad

Almost simultaneously with the launch of the Apple iPod, masses of speaker docks arrived leaving a confused consumers dizzyingly deliberating over which one to buy. Whilst the spawning of the iPod’s tablet sibling, the iPad’s speaker docks have been much slower to emerge and only now is beginning to gather up speed. From just over £50 to almost a grand, check out our top five speaker docking systems for the iPad that cater for every iPad owner’s budget.

Octiv-Stage

Scorche BassDOCK iPad Speaker Dock

You can tilt it, rotate it and cart the 2.1 sound system with 40mm stereo speakers around with you, meaning you can enjoy practically any viewing angle accompanied by smooth, crystal clear sound practically anywhere. Compatible with both the first and second generations of iPad, we assume Scosche’s latest innovatory delight derives its name from its 3 inch subwoofer, which delivers a rich and powerful bass.

Asides from transforming your iPad into a powerful and flexible complete entertainment system, the bassDOCK delivers 10 watts for a super-fast charge.

Pretty impressive for just $149.99.

iLuv iMM747

For those of us on a tighter monetarist leash, the iLuv iMM474 could be the answer. Looking fairly elegant all in black, this iPad speaker dock boasts a tweeter, mid-range driver a subwoofer to really blast out some noise. Another notable touch is that the iLuv features an adjustable docking wall providing the iPad with some valuable support.

At just £49.99 it’s not much of a gamble!

Bang & Olufsen BeoSound 8

Calling all posers, if you’ve got a spare £900 to blow on an iPad speaker dock then take a look at the Bang & Olufsen BeoSound 8. The Danish designer sure knows how to pull out all the stops in designing shockingly expensive gadgets and if you’re after impressing with mega-materialistic appliances scattered about the home then you’re definitely on to a winner the uniquely designed BeoSound 8. Audio-wise we’re not as instantly bowled over, although with a clog that consists of three adjustment switches that modify the bass boom according to its position in the room, we’re beginning to warm up to the audio capabilities of this top of the range iPad speaker dock.

Philips Fidelio DS8550

£250 now that’s a bit more ‘realistic’! It may not possess the aesthetical ‘wow’ factor of its Bang & Olufsen counterpart but the ‘SoundCurve’ concaved device will certainly hold its own in impressing the mates stakes. The Fidelio DS8550 promises to impress when switched on as well as Philips insist it has been design to deliver distortion free sound.

Altec Lansing Octiv Stage

At just £60 how can the Altec Lansing Octiv Stage really compare with its more expensive rivals? Well it doesn’t really, but if your after docking your iPad and filling the room with distortion-free sound at a volume without breaking the bank, then the Octive Stage’s cheap and cheerful dual full-range speakers may be just the job!

Mini in the Box: Cheap iPad accessories

Useful as iPads are (and before you complain, for the most part they are useful) they can often be augmented with a carefully made accessory – hence the thriving third party eco-system of cases, stands and what have you. But they can be quite expensive.

Mini in the Box, a small company based in China asked use very kindly to have a look at a few of the cut-price accessories they supplied for the iPad and we are a sucker for good manners so we agreed.

Miniinthebox

The rotating iPad stand
A charging dock for the iPad, this stand is a very peculiar contraption. You can insert your iPad in portrait mode and charge it as well as sync with iTunes via the USB connection. The rotating aspect is also curious – it refers to the iPad 30-pin port connector rather than the dock itself. I spent a good deal of time baffled as to how to hold the iPad on the stand horizontally before I realised they intended for you to simply slide the charging connector out of the way and merely rest the iPad in landscape orientation without charging. This feels a little less secure and is a bit of a fudge – but does work. When you plug the stand in, the bottom edge that holds your iPad in glows a futuristic blue, which is reasonably cool although it would be good if this were linked to the charging mechanism somehow rather than just blue all the time. The whole unit is plastic and the build quality is very average – erring on the flimsy side. However, it is also very, very cheap and if you’ve spent all your money getting your hands on an iPad in the first place, an inexpensive iPad stand isn’t the worst idea in the world.

USB/SD card reader
iPad detractors often bemoan the lack of USB or SD card support, and whilst it’s debatable as to whether this should have been built directly into the iPad, rather than merely part of the external camera connector kit, the magic of having the USB and SD ports built into the one dongle is undeniable. As with the stand, the build quality is a little on the cheap side, but it is a useful accessory -especially if you take lots of photos on the road and want to offload them. The USB port also lets you plug in USB keyboards and a seemingly random selection of other accessories. Nifty.

iPad stylus
Small drawing tool if you don’t feel that comfortable painting with your fingers. I couldn’t get this to work doing more than simple lines and it was hard to draw with any degree of subtly. One to avoid.

iPodium: Oh brave new world that hath such iPad docks in it.

As anyone who attended CES and was a fan of Zoolander would tell you, tablets are so hot right now. King of the castle is clearly Apple’s iPad – although the Blackberry Playbook and Motorola Xoom are snapping at it’s heels. And just like the smartphone market, third party accessory manufacturers and app developers go where the heat is. iPod docks are almost ubiquitous – with some being harder to differentiate than others. iPad docks are however a rarer beast.

logic3-i-podium

Dipping their toes into these relatively untested waters are Logic3 – makers of the pretty cool cube alarm dock we had a look at here.

iPad docks are curious – half the cases out there add stand functionality – even the default made by Apple case has a built in stand and the default speakers are decent so the need for dedicated iPad stands is a little less obvious.

However Logic3 have gone the extra mile with the I-podium in making a device that is both cool and functional. The I-podium has a power supply so is a useful charging dock for your iPad. One bonus tick. It also has a massive boom tube in the base that beefs up the iPad’s sound system a could power a small party – one unlikely to trouble the resident’s association. Another bonus tick. And coolest of all the podium allows you to swivel your iPad between portrait and landscape rotation – cool for when you want to write (with a Bluetooth keyboard) or if you just want to show one of the many excellent “display” style apps – the Guardian photography app, Weather HD or Nightstand all spring to mind. Massive bonus tick.

Not to be outdone, Logic3 have bundled an app with the stand that includes weather, internet radio music and photography. And here is where the amazing experience falls down.  The app is optimised for the iphone and can only run on a small screen or with pixel doubling. And looks horrible as a result. Which is a tremendous shame as all other aspects of the stand are a joy to use. I’m sure this will be fixed in an upcoming update. And there are plenty of other excellent apps you can use in the meantime.

Logic3 release six iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch docks

Logic3 has decided that there aren’t enough iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch docks on the market. So they’re launching six. Six. It’s a sound policy: probability dictates that at least one will be pretty good.

Logic3iPad

Two are devoted to the iPad – the i-Station Podium and the i-Station Base. Both have the typical dock features of playing music and charging the device. That’s where the simplicity ends, however.

The Podium has a unique rotatable dock for twisting the iPad between orientation modes. Watch movies in landscape, for example, and spin it round for music listening or e-mail browsing.  The footrest moves, too, ensuring you get the best viewing angle whatever you’re doing.

It also comes with a free downloadable app that’s got a massive amount of functionality: clock, calendar, internet radio, alarm, voice recorder, sleep, weather information, equaliser control, nature sounds and a photo album. Essentially, your iPad becomes the perfect alarm clock-beating, wake-up companion. £69.99.

The i-Station Base is the compact option. It includes the above app, as well as a remote control and a clever cable management function to allow easy iPad rotation. £59.99.

The other four devices are all for iPhone/iPod Touch. The Combo brings a CD Player to the traditional dock, as well as an FM radio alarm (you can choose to wake-up to a buzzer or your iPhone, too). There’s a big LCD for telling the time, as well as a remote for distance control. £99.99.

The SoundBar is a heavy-duty dock. It’s got a powerful 30 RMS speaker system, which includes two 2-inch mid-range drivers and two 2.8-inch sub-woofers. Basically, it’s loud and full of bass. No CD player, but you will find an FM radio and two auxiliary inputs, for plugging in a TV, PC, another MP3 player – anything audio, really. £99.99.

The i-Station26 is aimed at the space-conscious SoundBar-buyer. The two speakers are 1.8-inch mid-range drives, and a single 3-inch sub. The auxiliary has also been dropped, but otherwise the rest of the SoundBar is here. £69.99.

Finally, there’s the Lite – the small, portable one. Charge it up at home and listen to your iPhone wherever you go. You can even plug in your iPhone while the Lite charges up, powering both devices. More FM radio has been included, too £34.99.