Sometimes the idea of something is better than the reality: having that last pint that pushes you over the edge, Windows TabletPC Edition and now to add to the list a monitor with built-in iPod dock.
It looks good on paper, and in fairness looks pretty good on the desktop as well. Although on a purely practical point, especially if this was destined for the living room, the glossy black trim very quickly morphs into a smudged matt fingerprint laden finish, or at least it did in the reviewer's household.
The real problems start, however, when you start thinking about why you would need an integrated dock to connect your iPod top your computer anyway.
Even hyped features such as being able to watch your iPod video content on a nice 19-inch screen are squashed when you remember that all that video content has already been slapped onto your hard drive anyway (to transfer it to your iPod to begin with) so you can squirt it out fullscreen without an iPod attached at all, integrated dock or not.
The same is true, of course, of your audio content. Sure, with the PC switched off you can use the monitor and dock as a kind of iPod jukebox, but you have to use the iPod itself as a control panel which is hugely fiddly while docked, and the speakers are rather lightweight for such an application.
The 2W speakers with a 3W subwoofer struggle to produce anything close to an acceptable sound stage. Not only is the maximum volume as weak as a BBC Saturday night TV schedule, but the sound is distinctly lacking in any hint of treble detail. And anyway, you can watch videos or view images with the PC off as they require the presence of iTunes.
As a standalone monitor it stands up rather well, with a swathe of four USB ports on the base and an 8-in-1 media card reader for good measure. The 5ms response time, 700:1 contrast ratio and 1440 x 900 resolution all add up to a pleasing visual experience whether playing games or reviewing your digital photo archive. The trouble is that the iPod dock gimmick, and ultimately that is what it is, whacks a hefty price premium onto this monitor. Remember, it’s just a 19-inch LCD when all is said and down, and £260 makes it a rather expensive one.
You can buy plenty of decent iPod charging dock-come-speaker combos for the difference in price between this and a standard monitor, with the advantage of much better sound quality at the expense of just a few inches of desk space.