Best Audio Gadget 2010: and the nominees are...

We've seen plenty of innovation in the audio sector over the last year - not least with Apple's latest lineup of all-conquering iPods. That in turn has fuelled the ever-growing selection of speaker docks and headphones, of which we've seen a lot of in 2010. But, it doesn't stop there - DAB and internet radios have also made waves this year, thanks to a series of high-profile products.

With the Pocket-lint Gadget Awards 2010 fast approaching, we take a look at the five products fighting for the chance to be Best Audio gadget 2010. Which will get your vote?

 

Apple iPod touch 4th gen

Type
Media player

Price
From £189

Released
8 September 2010

PL review score
9/10



The fact that Apple's latest iPod touch has made the shortlist is unlikely to surprise anyone. The mighty iPod has become something of a yardstick by which all other products are measured. Even those that steadfastly refuse to buy Apple products and label anyone that dares to as an Apple Fanboy, tend to have more of a problem with the company itself, rather than the friendly touchscreen music player.

Part of the refreshed 2010 lineup, the 4th-gen device takes a lot of tips from the iPhone 4 with its svelte profile and slightly square design. Of course, the biggest improvement to the new model concerns the screen. Although it was of perfectly reasonable quality on the previous model, the display's resolution was upped from a modest 380 x 320 to a whopping 960 x 640 pixels, resulting in impressively sharp rendering of graphics and text.

Along with the fancy new screen, the latest iPod touch has also been blessed with a pumped-up A4 processor - as found in the iPhone and iPad - along with all the benefits that come with the latest version of iOS4, such as FaceTime video calling. The addition of a camera further ups the ante. Put it all together and, on paper, Apple seems finally to have produced the perfect portable media player just as equipped for playing games as it is music and video but has it done enough to be named Best Audio Gadget 2010?

 

Harman Kardon Go + Play Micro

Type
iPod speaker dock

Price
£199.95

Released
August 2010

PL review score
9/10



The iPod dock was once a cheap, plastic piece of apparatus with appalling sound teamed with an unispiring design. However, that's all changed now and the last year has seen a slew of chic products with strong audio to match. Even the big audio and hi-fi manufacturers have got involved, including Harman Kardon with its Go + Play Micro.

With its attractive elliptical chassis, Harman Kardon's iPod speaker dock is equipped with two forward facing speakers along with a built-in subwoofer. We were bowled over by its natural audio that manages to reproduce your tunes faithfully without drowning them in extra bass. The unusual design also incorporates a very useful carrying handle and rechargeable battery pack should you wish to indulge in music in a different setting such as the home office or garden. With its distinctive shape and solid audio performance, the Go + Play Micro is a strong contender in this category and just that little bit better than all the other docks we saw in 2010.


Creative ZiiSound D5 Bluetooth speakers

Type
Bluetooth speakers

Price
£279

Released
May 2010

PL review score
9/10



While there are plenty of iPod docks around, a great many of them rely on cheap remote controls. The obvious way round this is to use the music player itself as a remote, courtesy of a wireless connection. The D5 does exactly this, thanks to its Bluetooth capability, making the connected iPod entirely wireless.

While it may not be top dog when it comes to aesthetics, the D5 is a very compact system that's well suited to dwellings where space is at a premium. It's also cheaper than many of its rival speaker docks, although technically, this isn't actually a dock as the iPod can be carried around while your music is playing. The speakers can also be paired up with other Bluetooth-compatible devices, making it extra versatile. But is it good enough to scoop the prize?

 

Bowers and Wilkins P5

Type
Headphones

Price
£249.95

Released
April 2010

PL review score
9/10



There is now a bigger selection of headphones available than ever before. You can choose from cheap in-ear designs to carry around with you, noise-cancelling cans for wearing on planes, or wireless phones for unbridled listening. There are also a number of high-end headphones around, that will have hi-fi fans going weak at the knees. Bowers and Wilkins has long catered for the most discerning of audiophiles, so we couldn't wait to get our mitts on the ludicrously slick P5 headphones, which are designed for wearing when out and about, rather than hooking up to a reference-grade system.

These on-ear headphones sport retro-tinged aesthetics, while the rather flat design of the earcups means that they won't look too ridiculous when you're walking down the street and they'll also fit into your bag without taking up too much room. The leather-encased pads and the oval brushed metal backs ooze quality while the headband, also clad in leather, is extrememly comfortable. Of course, the all-important factor is audio quality and the P5 do not disappoint. The sonics are exceptional and more than enough to make these headphones a worthy contender for the top spot.


Pure Evoke-1S Marshall

Type
DAB radio

Price
£119.99

Released
August 2010

PL review score
9/10



DAB has been around for some time now, and still continues to gather pace thanks to a range of attractive radios and selection of excellent digital-only radio stations. Pure, along with main rival Roberts Radio, has been very much at the forefront of the revolution since the beginning. As well as launching many wildly popular models, such as the Evoke Mio, the British brand has also released a few products with a little extra flair or what some would (annoyingly) refer to as 'wow factor'. The Evoke-1S Marshall is one such product and is the result of a colloboration with legendary guitar amplifier manufacturer Marshall. Bringing a touch of rock 'n' roll to the world of DAB, the radio is styled to look like one of the iconic amps and even goes up to 11 - a knowing nod to Spinal Tap.

A revamped version of a similar model released back in 2006, the Evoke 1-S Marshall not only offers a unquestionably cool design, but it also delivers on the audio front too. Ticking pretty much every box when it comes to the DAB wish list, this rocking radio has certainly made a good case for itself. But is it enough to put it on the winner's podium?

 

So which of these fantastic five gets your vote as the Pocket-lint Awards Best Audio Gadget 2010? Make you choice count on our voting page and don't forget to take a look at the other categories as we round them up.



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