Smart TVs are all well and good, but if you are one of the millions who already has a perfectly good HD telly in the lounge do you really need to splash another £600 just to move from dumb to smart? In a word no because Sony has you covered with a handy little box that will set you back less than £100 and will turn any TV it’s hooked up to into one that’s as smart as a button and that does everything a new top-end connected Bravia TV will do. And don’t forget Sony’s Bravias are some of the best clever tellys about.
Valves in an iPod dock? And one made by Samsung rather than handcrafted by a firm of British audiophiles in a small light industrial unit in deepest Shropshire? Strangely the answer to both questions is yes. And those are not even the two most important features of the new DA-E750. It also has a unique combined Apple/MicroUSB dock, is better connected than Henry Kissinger and must be one of the most beautiful bits of domestic Hi-Fi that I’ve laid eyes on in many a year.
Pure’s Contour range of iPod docks has been around for a while now but the 200i Air is the first to feature Apple's lossless AirPlay technology which means as well as simply docking your iPhone, iPod or iPad you can stream your music over your WiFi network from any iOS device or from any PC or Mac running iTunes. And thanks to a dedicated Pure app that you can download free from the App Store it has quite a few other tricks up its sleeve. Of course this does mean it’s aimed squarely at iDevice and iTunes users, so if you're not one of those you can probably stop reading right about now.
Apple’s iDevices have a lot going for them, not least convenience but when it comes to sound quality it’s a different matter thanks to Apple’s use of DACs - Digital to Analogue Converters - that at best can only be described as adequate. A cheap and nasty DAC can result in a shallow, brittle and generally tiresome sound. A good DAC can have the opposite effect, making even a grotty 128k lossless audio file sound almost CD-like.
Audio docks for your iPhone, iPod or iPad as are common as muck but now Philips is offering a range of speaker units tailored specifically for Android devices. Before we crack on it’s worth mentioning that Philips already has some serious form in the dock market. The DS9000, launched in 2010, was quite simply a blinder. Superb to look at and listen to it was easily on a par with the best from Arcam and B&W.
Despite the fact that iPod has replaced Walkman as the synonymous name for a portable music player Sony has not only kept kept the brand alive but managed to build a reputation for sonic excellence. In short its digital music players may not sell in the numbers Apple’s do but they sound a hell of a lot better.
Swiss upmarket audio maker Geneva Sound has made its reputation turning out superbly made, excellent sounding and visually stunning iDevice docks like the Models M, L and XL with a price that if you have to ask about you can’t afford. The huge and truly stunning XL for example will set you back £2,000.