There are a fair few iPod / iPhone docks that can be packed full of batteries and taken out to the park for a little party. There’s even a budget dock from Griffin that powers itself off of your Apple gadget’s own internal battery. The problem with most of these portable options is that they either lack enough power to crank the volume up to room-filling levels, or lose definition and distort your tunes before they get all that loud. Sony’s RDP-X80iP dock answers many of these shortcomings.
Working with practically any Apple product, including the latest iPhone 4 models and shipping with Apple docking adaptors 12 and 15, the RDP-X80iP has an internal rechargeable battery which allows for 7 hours of continuous playback of your tunes. The dock can also be used with most other MP3 players thanks to a mini-jack input on its back, but only Apple gadgets will benefit from the RDP-X80iP’s charging feature when it is plugged into the mains.
For a portable dock running off an internal battery, the RDP-X80iP hits impressively loud volume levels without compromising sound quality. The RDP-X80iP will have no problem filling a wide-open space with music thanks to its 20W amp, and still retains great clarity across the frequency ranges. This is in part due to the five well-tuned pre-set-equalizer modes (Pop, Rock, Jazz, Flat and Vocal) of which the Pop and Rock settings proved most capable. The Rock setting in particular managed convincingly beefy bass levels, without drowning out mids and trebles, impressive in itself for a speaker of this size. It wont compete with a dedicated home-audio system, but the RDP-X80iP is one of the best portable solutions we’ve heard.
Measuring up at 356 x 119 x 163mm and weighing 1.9kg, it’s hard to argue against the RDP-X80iP’s portability, with the docking connection itself tidily folding back into the main body of the unit to keep it safe when in transit. It’s a shame then that more effort didn’t go into the visual design of the product overall. Little more than a slim, gloss-black box with aluminium trimming and an under-used-and-ever-so-slightly-too-small OLED screen, it’s far from ugly, but not quite as eye-catching as some of the docks that the likes of Bose offer. Likewise, the small remote feels a little unresponsive, though has no problems navigating the iTunes menus in your Apple devices. Still, as a dock that’s more likely to travel around with you rather than sit too long on display at home you can’t knock the build quality which seems robust, with most of the weight cleverly distributed along its base to reduce the likelihood of the thin unit toppling over.
Though we’d have liked to have seen an FM or DAB tuner included for a dock that’s just a few pennies shy of £250, the RDP-X80iP remains an impressive dock. It will happily sit as the centrepiece of any barbecue or picnic, but you may want to look elsewhere if you want a system designed to be more at home in a living room or bedroom.