There’s a lot of money in Apple accessories: just ask Built, Crumpler, iHome, Griffin, JBL or any of the other companies that make the myriad cases, docks, cables and other accessories Apple doesn’t include in the box.
Swiss company Logitech has long been on the iAccessory bandwagon and we took a look at its latest entry-level music dock, the Pure-Fi Express Plus, but found it wanting.
Available in black, purple, red, blue or orange, the Pure-Fi express isn’t a bad-looking dock, but the fact that it feels lighter than it looks is the first hint that it’s by no means a premium unit. With a R1 000 price tag, that’s not terrible, but there are plenty of other options in that price range that offer additional features.
The Pure-Fi can be powered by AC adapter or via six double-A batteries that aren’t included and is compact enough to take on a road trip, picnic or similar.
The unit offers so-called “omnidirectional” speakers, which are meant to make it sound equally good no matter where in a room it’s placed. As it happens, “good” is a pretty accurate description of the sound on offer. It’s not bad, but it isn’t great either – the bass is acceptable for a device of its class, but the treble is a little flat out of the box and the highs are a bit tinny.
Overall, the sound is entirely acceptable, but there’s no option to alter the equaliser settings, which is disappointing. Cranking up the volume introduces distortion pretty quickly, but then this isn’t meant to be the sort of system you’d use to power a party.
The infrared remote, which distinctly resembles a black version of an Apple remote, requires line of sight to the dock, and if — like us — you don’t read the manual and figure out which pop-in tray matches your device you might find the remote will only control volume.
Logitech includes trays to support the all generations of iPod Classic, and first through third generations of iPod Nano. Strangely, it requires a “separate purchase” to support the fourth generation iPod Nano, and only supports play and charge functionality for the various iPhone generations and the iPod Touch.
Thanks to the inclusion of a 3,5mm auxiliary jack, it’s possible to plug in any device with an audio-out, which greatly improves the usefulness of the dock and largely mitigates the lack of support for iPhones and the iPod Touch — you just won’t be able to use the remote to control them.
The Pure-Fi includes a clock and alarm, something that’s become fairly common in compact docks, but curiously — in a move that’s thankfully pretty uncommon — you can’t use a song or playlist from your iPod as the alarm. The only option is a traditional alarm clock beeping that gets gradually louder. Pushing the volume wheel sets the alarm to snooze for 10 minutes.
So, you can’t choose the tone, or a song in lieu of one, or set the snooze duration, all of which makes for a pretty poor alarm. Also, there’s no AM/FM radio, so that’s not an option either.
Considering how many similar docks are on the market, some of which offer a built-in rechargeable battery, radio and a greater array of controls, and most of which are positioned in a similar price range, it’s difficult to recommend the Pure-Fi to anyone other than those who like their devices simple.
It’s by no means a terrible device, and for the most part it does what it says on the box, but the Pure-Fi is simply far too average an offering in a product category that’s full of stars. — Craig Wilson, TechCentral
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