Hands On With 5 New iPod Docks Page 4

Key Features
$498 cueacoustics.com
• Speakers (r1 and s1): coaxial driver with 3-in woofer and 3?4-in tweeter • Amplifier 100 watts (biamplified) • Connections analog minijack, AM and FM antenna inputs; speaker output • Dimensions Radio r1, 101?2 x 41?4 x 61?2 in; s1 speaker, 61?2 x 61?2 x 41?2 in • Weight Radio r1, 6 lb; s1 speaker, 31?2 lb • Compatible With: All iPod and iPhone models

CUE RADIO Model r1 and s1 Satellite Speaker

For many people, the iPod's appeal begins with its unmistakably contemporary, high-tech style. Naturally, such folks would want their dock to have the same vibe. With its flat plastic sides, rounded corners, and minimalist controls, the Cue Radio Model r1 ($399) definitely shares the iPod's design flair. Its backlit display even resembles the iPod's own. The display has an auto-dimming feature that adjusts brightness to room light levels, and it conveniently replicates your iPod's menu in addition to serving other functions.

A universal dock located on top holds your iPod or iPhone. There is also an AM/FM tuner onboard with 24 station presets. An equalizer offers five modes: Rock, Jazz, Classical, Pop, and Flat. Wait - there's more! The r1 has dual alarms with selectable wake-up sources and customized snooze length from 1 to 20 minutes. And its credit-card-size remote duplicates all the front-panel control functions.

The r1 only provides one coaxial speaker, with the left and right channels automatically mixed for mono output. For stereo playback, you'll need to add a Model s1 satellite speaker ($99 extra). It has matching style and, more important, a matching coaxial speaker driver. The amplifier inside the r1 powers the s1, with connection via a 10-foot cable. The system automatically senses when the speaker is attached and switches to stereo output - the right channel through the r1 and the left through the s1.

With its external speaker attached, the r1 provides a warm sound. The small speaker size obviates any possibility of deep bass, and I wish the tweeters had a bit more bite, but upper bass response is as snuggly as wool socks, and the all-important midrange is clear and clean, with excellent vocal definition. All in all, its sound quality is cuts above that of most table clock radios. Of course, with a 10-foot cable, the external speaker also offers an extra advantage not found on most docks: enhanced stereo separation.

With its sleek styling, warm sound, and tight integration with the iPod or iPhone, the Cue Radio Model r1 is a tidy package indeed. It doesn't go crazy with unnecessary complexity, but has enough features to make it a practical option as the sole audio system for a bedroom or dorm room. The r1 may be a bit pricey, but it's a serious contender in the world of iPod docks.