There is something about an iPod dock these days that suggests that it can no longer be just about the speaker. There has to be some design element added in order to make it stand out from the crowd, whether that be a different shape or an innovative layout, one thing it must not be is square or boxy.
In steps the Harman Kardon Go + Play Micro, an elliptical shaped iPod speaker dock that features two forward facing speakers and subwoofer that fires down onto the desk, table, or picnic rug that you've plonked it on.
Extending on this elliptical theme further, the speaker features a large, but solid metal handle that encloses the design, but also actually acts as a handle so you can carry it around. Basically it's like a giant funky handbag that Mrs Pocket-lint would like to own, and you know that would cost a bomb. Alternatively, perhaps it is an embodiment of the Wembley arch.
That expensive look actually feels expensive too, which is a good thing, and there is a decent weight to the whole unit that will make you feel that it's worth the £250 you've paid for it. Unfortunately the same can't be said for the rather basic remote control that comes in the box.
Beneath the arch are the control buttons - all three of them - and the all important docking station. To make sure it fits every iPhone/iPod under the sun there is a large screw that can be raised to allow your device to sit in the right place, and we tested it with an iPod touch (1G), an iPhone 3GS and an iPhone 4. All worked perfectly.
As for those three buttons, you'll get a power switch and volume up and down. There are no equaliser buttons and no extra "boom box" features. Harman Kardon is all about creating a natural sound and, therefore, believes that if you want to do something to that sound, the iPhone and its plethora of equaliser settings are just as good.
Around the back you get power in - an adapter is included in the box - a USB socket for connecting to a computer, a TV out and an AUX in. There is also a massive battery compartment that will reveal that you've got to feed the Go + Play Micro with eight (yes eight) C cell batteries. Those that decide to do so will free themselves from the shackles and chains of mains power. That means the garden, the park, camping - pretty much anywhere.
Battery life as you can imagine isn't long and depending on a number of factors, like the type of music you listen to (bassy tracks are a real battery drainer), you'll get around 12 hours of music before you've got to resupply it with batteries.
So that's the looks, what of the sound? Well we can happily report that the Harman Kardon Go + Play Micro sounds really nice. It's a very natural sound and nowhere near as bassy as the Bowers and Wilkins Zeppelin.
The sub that fires downwards will vary in performance depending on what you place it on, but it also does a good job in creating a decent sound that will please most. What we mean by a natural sound is that it tries to do its best to replicate the original track that you are playing on your iPod, rather than enhance it with extra bass or treble.
If your original track sounds poor then it will sound poor here too. As for sheer noise performance, the Go + Play Micro is certainly loud enough to fill a lounge, garden party and certainly picnic - you will get complaints if you crank it up.
We like the Harman Kardon Go + Play Micro iPod speaker dock for its simplicity and its kooky design. While that design is something that is likely to polarise fans - you'll either love it or think it's ugly - we personally think it really has enough design panache to carry it off.
Combine that with a very good sound and this is one player we would recommend.