Boasting the same looks as the bigger DS9000 the DS8550 hopes to win you round by offering up a more portable product but still keeping those design cues, what you're left with is all round iPad and iPhone docking goodnes
The smaller brother to the Philips Fidelio DS9000 is a dock for you iPhone, iPod and iPad. The undulating form of the Fidelio looks stylish and the concave shape makes good sense as it helps project the sound from your iPad up and out. It looks just as good with an iPod nano, or an iPhone too. The continuous speaker grill hides two 15W speakers and at the back is a handle that hints at this docks best feature – a rechargeable battery for true portability.
The organic mimimalism looks great, but this is a richly featured dock too. It has Bluetooth connectivity if you prefer to unplug your iPad and there are USB and minijack inputs for two other devices. You also have a clock, alarm and five preset sound modes to choose from and a smart lozenge-shaped remote control. The rechargeable battery is the crowning feature giving you up to five hours of untethered playtime.
It’s easy to use too. With no controls of its own beyond the power and volume buttons, the rest is done with the remote, or the iPad. The Bluetooth compatibility means that you can take the iPad to the comfort of your sofa and still hear a clear signal. There’s even a Philips app available for free download from the iTunes store that’ll enhance your playback options and give you a pleasing Fidelio-themed skin for your music.
The sound from this modest dock is surprisingly fulsome with a big bass output. It dowesn’t have the scale of more expensive docks like the B&W Zeppelin, but it projects well and throws out lots of low end. Too much in fact. Philips spent time developing a system to maximise the bass output and in reality, you’ll want to turn the bass down using your iPad’s own tone controls to get a more neutral balance.
With the bass reigned in, the sound quality is warm and engaging and well suited to movies, which makes this a great way to turn your iPad into a mini cinema. The warm tone suits music too. A little more separation in the mid-band would have been nice, but we’re not complaining at this price.
Taking the iPad out of its dock and using Bluetooth to stream music sounds just as clear and cohesive. The other two inputs sound fine too. And going fully wireless by unplugging the mains cable gives you a full five hours of play at the same quality.
This smoothly styled dock is the most flexible friend the iPad has right now. The features are all wisely chosen for maximum convenience and the sound quality is fine for such a reasonably priced system. Full marks.
Philips Fidelio DS8550 launch date: Out now, link Philips
Philips Fidelio DS8550 price: £190-£250