For the past several years a number of A/V manufacturers, especially those who specializing in products for the custom installation market, have offered a variety of iPod docking systems designed to let users plug their iPods into home audio and/or home theater systems. The appeal, of course, is that such docks let you turn your normally hand-held personal digital playback device into a mini-media server that the whole family can enjoy.
But one thing that has surprised me about many of the dock offerings I’ve seen is that they so often fail to take advantage of two of the iPod’s greatest strengths: namely, its portability and terrific user interface. Happily, Marantz’s IS301 Wireless Dock for iPod addresses both problems in an ergonomically satisfying way.
Consider this iPod dock if: you’d like to listen to music (or watch video content) from your iPod, yet would like to preserve as much of the tradition iPod user experience as possible. The IS301 is particularly useful in settings where you might need or want to keep your iPod stationed near your listening chair and away from your main equipment rack. The IS301 also gives you the option—at least for music playback—carrying the iPod with you as you move about the room.
Look elsewhere if: you’re a purist audiophile looking to extract digital audio signals from the iPod that can be routed to an outboard DAC for maximum sound quality. The IS301 provides analog audio and video outputs only, though it is tough to beat in terms of pure convenience.
Ratings (relative to comparably priced iPod docks):
The IS301 consists of three main units:
Interestingly, the IS301 is configured such that it can, when used with compatible Marantz A/V components, provide a limited range of remote control functions such as power on/off, volume up/down, and input switching. The IS301 handset also includes a USB port so that an installed iPod can be synced to the iTunes account on your PC or Mac (a USB cable is included for this purpose).
The system also includes a variety of handy accessories, including:
iPod compatibility; the IS301 is compatible with the following types of iPods: