Altec Lansing Octiv 450 iPad speaker
Does the twist
Review After a slow start, quite a few iPad speaker-docks in the shops these days, one of the most recent arrivals being the Octiv 450 from Altec Lansing – well known for its inMotion range of portable iPod speakers. The Octiv isn’t portable, but its compact design is neat and practical, and it produces a surprisingly robust sound.
In the frame: Altec Lansing's Octiv 450
The Octiv looks rather like an easel, with the stereo speakers forming the solid, rectangular base of the contraption. The iPad then slides into an armature that has a dock connector built into it, and which holds the iPad just above the speaker unit.
The armature tilts backwards and forwards, and also rotates so that you can switch the iPad from portrait to landscape mode when watching video. There’s an Aux input for connecting other types of audio device, but no USB port for syncing the iPad with iTunes on a Mac or PC.
Audio quality is very good, producing a warm, textured sound, and the rectangular speaker unit pushes sound out to the sides as well as the front, so that the sound really fills the space around it. Altec Lansing were reluctant to tell us the output wattage – “we prefer to focus on the sound quality” – but the Octiv was louder than I’d expected for such a compact unit.
Twists and turns for your viewing pleasure
The bass could be a little more full-bodied, though, and a bit of distortion creeps in as you push the volume right up to maximum. It’s not quite powerful enough for a full-scale party, but is more than adequate for listening to music in your bedroom, or in the front room when you have a few friends around for dinner.
I did have some problems with the remote control, though. As well as the standard playback and volume controls, the remote has four ‘menu’ buttons that should allow you to navigate through the iPad’s music menus and playlists.
I was puzzled to find that I was only able to scroll up and down through songs within a playlist, and had to select the actual playlists myself by walking over to the iPad and tapping on the iPad screen. Altec Lansing blamed this on Apple, and told me that the dock connector on the iPad is wired differently to that of the iPhone or iPod.
Good sonically, but let down by the remote control functionality
A quick check with my iPhone and an iPod Touch did confirm that the remote control worked properly with those devices, but that doesn’t alter the fact that you’ve been given a semi-functional remote control that seems to have been designed for the iPhone/iPod rather than the iPad.
The remote control needs a bit of a rethink, but the Octiv’s compact design and attractive sound quality do make it a good companion for the iPad. The ability to rotate the iPad so that you can watch widescreen video is a nice touch too, and could give it an edge over rival speaker systems that lack this option. ®
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