Originally available only in white, the SoundDock has since been released in black as well. The speaker ships with adapters for various generations of iPods (the only incompatible models are the first two iPods, which lack the dock connector on the underside). You simply pop the adapter in the SoundDock's cradle, plug in the power cord, drop your iPod in the cradle, and you're good to go. Also included in the box is a small, very basic, credit card-style remote that allows you to advance and rewind tracks on your iPod, control its volume, and shut off the unit (the iPod automatically turns on and the battery charges when you dock it).
The SoundDock performed better than we expected. It easily filled our 10-by-18-foot room with a big sound, but stereo separation was nada until we moved to a position within three feet of the speaker. The near-field sound also enhanced the little system's bass and treble definition.
A series of duets between jazz guitarist Charlie Hunter and drummer Bobby Previte on their Come in Red Dog CD sounded surprisingly live. Previte's bass drum had lots of kick, and his cymbals' crisp detail added to the realism of the sound. Hunter plays bass and guitar simultaneously on his eight-string instrument, and the SoundDock delineated every note. The Bose's richly balanced bass goes a long way toward mimicking the weighty presence of a larger speaker.
Rocking out with John Mellencamp's greatest hits once again proved the little system's stamina. Yes, a decent home-theater system will deliver even more satisfying sound and real stereo separation, but it will take up a lot more space than the little SoundDock. If you're considering Altec Lansing's InMotion microspeaker set, which also hosts iPods, that travel-friendly unit is half the price ($150), but the Bose plays louder and has deeper bass and clearer treble.
Our biggest gripe with the SoundDock is its lack of inputs, which means that you can't connect anything to it besides a dock-equipped iPod. Ideally, a speaker accessory costing $300 would be a little more flexible. Also, it'd be nice if the SoundDock, like Tivoli Audio's iPAL, had a built-in rechargeable battery, making it a truly cordless speaker that you could place anywhere.
When we first reviewed the SoundDock in 2004, it was one of the first dedicated iPod speakers available. In the years since, the the market's been flooded with competing models offering more features and decent (if not better) sound quality. The SoundDock remains well suited for use in an office, a bedroom, or a small living room--especially for those for whom the Bose name is worth paying a premium. But we'd like to see the SoundDock at a slightly lower price and--at the very least--with an auxiliary line-in port.
Editors' note: Freelancer Steve Guttenberg contributed to this review.