Today's bracket battle is between the Kensington SX3000R ($169.99) and the Altec Lansing iM600 ($149.99). Two docks. Two grudges. Two legit to quit.
So who will win the battle?
The iM600. Oops. Was that out loud?
The SX3000R is a rarity among iPod docks. Instead of opting for the parallel, iPod blocks the speaker format, the SX3000R stores the iPod on the side. And it's a refreshing effect in person.
The iM600 is understated minus the bright blue display that really spices up the design in the dark. And it has a real deal antenna, 1980s style, that stores away within the dock neatly.
Radio: Having no display, Kensington made a smart choice in displaying radio stations through the iPod itself. The iM600 uses its built-in display, but why not double the information as large as possible on the iPod?
The iM600 also features a built-in battery rated at 7 hours, TV out, USB in, and subwoofer out—meanwhile, the Kensington skimped on these extras.
Both docks will function as an alarm clock using the iPod's clock.
The Kensington SX3000R got our hopes up. Why? They put the iPod off to the side where it wouldn't block sound. But while playing the Barenaked Ladies song Pinch Me, we realized that the iPod's position was motivated by aesthetics, not audio.
Because the SX3000R, quite simply, doesn't sound very good. A balance of frequencies might be somewhere within sound field, but everything is so muffled that it can be tough to tell. The listening experience makes you wonder if an object is blocking the speaker, flattening the sound into something that doesn't warrant deep analysis.
The iM600 is not perfect, but definitely sounds a tier above the Kensington. The dock undoubtedly has more bass response that any portable system we've reviewed yet, even if it won't shake the floor. And most of all, the guitars, vocals and drums blend into a harmonious package. Acoustic was solid; electric shined. Yes, there is a faint static that audiophiles will notice during some songs (couldn't find the correlation here), and we wouldn't call the IM600's sound "crisp." But it's a solid performance nonetheless.
WINNER: Altec Lansing iM600
Maybe it's unfair to check street prices as opposed to retail, but given that both units can move for $135, this battle turned out to be a slaughter. The iM600 packs almost every feature was could ask for in a docking system, and its audio is decent to boot. The Kensington SX3000R loses in every category that counts, and simply is not the dock you want to buy when there are a slew of better options available for the money.