GEAR4 AlarmDock Halo iPod review: iPod dock around the clock

GEAR4 offered us the chance to spend a few nights with their new AlarmDock Halo speaker docking station. How could we say no?

The UK-based audio brand have release a relatively stylish little iPod dock that doubles up as an alarm clock. Small enough to fit on a bedside table the Halo has a little LCD clock just above your iPod and a big old fashioned snooze button just on top of that. The white plastic finish reminded me of iPods of yesteryear and the curved design goes beyond functional.

gear-4-halo

The sound quality from the dock was decent. Whilst lacking in room-filling bass it managed to subtly boost audio to acceptable levels for what is a bedroom-based device. As a living room dock it would average, but for day and night time listening in the bedroom the Halo, which has a built in subwoofer, displayed a relatively robust performance. There is a supplied remote that deals with volume and song playback. It’s a nice and click but a little bit hard to read in the dark – a little frustrating as I spent a lot of time using the unit in the very late or very early hours.

As any reader of this site should know, decent iPod docks are in no short supply. What makes the Halo special is the alarm dock functionality they have included thanks to the SmartDock app that “unlocks” additional functionality – or provides a more appealing way to access it. Installing the app from the walled garden is simple, and syncing is easy – just plug your iDevice in. You can set alarms on the device or on your iPod and they will sync on connection.

The Halo comes with a built in FM radio and has a little aerial out the back for reception. The SmartDock app has an autoscan function that makes tuning easy, and there is a fine tune option if you have signal problems. You can also control iTunes from within the dock, which is nice if you want to set some music to fall asleep to – or indeed a play list to wake up with. If you set music to sleep mode the volume will slowly decrease until the unit switches itself off, which was handy for obvious reasons.

The £99.99 dock should be yours to buy in shops from November.

In bloom – Bang & Olufsen’s BeoLab 11 subwoofer

Danish manufacturer of high end home entertainment systems have released what is possibly the most interesting looking subwoofer so far. Winning a race that no one else was running, the new BeoLab 11 has the usual high end sound quality that you would expect from Bang & Olufsen and it is both full active and compatible with third party applications.

BeoLab-11

The unit is basically two identical loudspeaker cabinets, with baffles facing each other, creating the tulip look. It comes in silver and white and is as much about creating a distinct talking point (the company says it has a strong sculptural presence, ) in the living room as it is about bass. It would probably make a good companion piece to the Dyson Air Multiplier.

However it is not all looks, and the BeoLab 11 is the first Bang & Olufsen subwoofer to utilize the Acoustic Balance Principle and will provide a richer listening experience, enhancing low end frequencies.

The unit reproduces omni-directional bass frequencies, which means that it doesn’t need to tucked away in the corner for optimal performance. And due to the tulip design, it might not look that bad in the middle of the room. Bang & Olufsen go one further and suggest that you can hang the unit on the wall. Apparently the BeoLab 11 produces minimal vibrations making it one of the few subwoofers in the world that can be wall mounted. Why you would want to is another question, but it can be done.

Not content with eye-catching sub-woofers, Bang & Olufsen also produced BeoLink a free iPhone app available in the Apple App Store. This allows owners of Bang & Olufsen’s Master Link Gateway to fully control all their home automation equipment from their iPhone or iPod touch. The range of potential applications is pretty impressive. You can turn on the lights, unlock your front door, change CDs or adjust the volume on the TV. You can also control your gates, garage doors, alarms and A/V equipment. And as you leave the house you can press a button and turn off all your appliances, lock all your doors and set your alarms. Or you can download the app, set it to demo mode and just pretend.