Earlier in 2010 we reviewed the Altec Lansing Octiv Mini iPhone-iPod speaker and praised its compact size and attractive minimalist styling. Now Octiv is expanding the line with the dual-dock Octiv Duo, which is nearly double the size of its smaller sibling and costs about twice as much--a still affordable $99.
As with the Octiv Mini, Altec keeps things simple. After all, why build in a bunch of extras like an LCD for the clock, an AM/FM radio, or fancy alarm systems when they're all basically redundant to the impressive built-in capabilities of the iPhone or iPod Touch? Instead, like iHome, Altec Lansing focused on designing custom apps that enhance the usability of the speaker dock.
When you first plug in your iPhone or iPod Touch, it will prompt you to install not one but two free apps: Alarm Rock and Music Mix. Alas, once installed, the apps won't automatically launch when you dock your device; that's an Apple issue.
Since we last saw the Alarm Rock app, Altec has improved it a bit. In addition to snooze and sleep modes, you still get the capability to set alarms only on certain days so you could, for example, have a weekend alarm and a weekday alarm; you can set the alarm to go off on individual days as well, such as Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. There are also a handful of themes to customize the clock's appearance. You could, alternately, use any other clock or alarm apps you'd prefer.
As we said, the Octiv Duo is about twice as large as the Mini and takes the form of a wedge or a hearty slice of pie. The speaker is 3.7 inches tall by 10.5 inches wide by 5.5 inches deep and stands out for having a classy, modern look with a black, matte finish.
Though you don't get a lot of features with the Octiv Duo, you do get more than what comes with the Mini. First and foremost, there are two docks instead of one, which lets you connect and charge two Apple iPhones or iPods at the same time. On the side of the unit, you'll also find a USB port for charging a non-Apple cell phone or a device such as an e-reader; you'll need to supply the USB cable. It's not earth shattering, but it's one of those great little value-added features that helps distinguish the Octiv Duo from the myriad other iPhone docks on the market. The Octiv Duo also has a mini-jack auxiliary input on the rear so you can play audio from non-Apple products.
Like all other "Made for iPhone" products, Altec electromagnetically shielded the Octiv Duo, so you can use an iPhone without having to toggle it into airplane mode.
Some users complained that the Octiv Mini didn't offer enough support for docked iPhones or iPod Touches. Since everything has to be controlled from your touch screen, the fear was that you might end up damaging the device's connector while, say, hitting the virtual snooze button a little too hard. For that reason, Altec has included a couple of adapter sleeves for the iPhone 3G and the iPod Touch that have higher collars. At the end of the day, we didn't think they made much of difference.