Cheap iPod speaker-dock thingies - school me, make recommendations

We’re in the market for an inexpensive speaker setup such that we can play my husband’s iPod Nano (1st generation) in a room for both of us to enjoy. We’d like to take it to the hospital with us when I give birth in a month or so (the hospital encourages this) but use it long-term in the room where we hang out most. The gizmo would live on the mantel of the fireplace there.

I’ve never known much about audio equipment and know even less of relevance nowadays. I look at Amazon or BestBuy or eBay and see a crushing plethora of choices in a humongous price range, starting at, I kid you not, under $5 delivered. I’m slogging through reviews, but it’s a hell of a lot to get through. Maybe you guys have thoughts on the subject? Models or features to suggest or avoid?

So – requirements:
[li]works with an older iPod Nano[/li][li]no more than 8.25" deep/front-to-back (and no more than about 14" tall; no particular restrictions on side-to-side measurement)[/li][li]either comes with an AC adapter, or one can be got for it[/li][li]decent sound quality – but we’re not expecting miracles, and it doesn’t have to be all that loud[/li][li]total with AC adapter: under $50 (used or refurbished OK)[/li][/ul]

Nice, but not essential:
[li]unobtrusive design visually[/li][li]decent battery life when using batteries[/li][li]recharges iPod when docked[/li][/ul]


Well, I couldn’t find mine online, they must not make it any more. It fits all of your requirements, it was by iHome. I use it in my little tiny Scamp camper, it fits perfectly behind the little stove, but the sound is fantastic. It has speakers that fold down flat for storage, all the iPod controls (play, pause, volume, etc.), sounds great, came with AC cable. Sorry it’s apparently no longer made, but based on my experience with that, I do recommend the iHome line.

LegsAkimbo, anything look familiar on eBay or Amazon?

Wal-Mart and Target both carry several different types, styles and sizes of of dockable iPod speaker sets, or at least they did when I was looking for one a year and half or so ago. You might also check to see what they have at the nearest Apple store. Not everything they carry is prohibitively expensive.

ETA: Many of these units require iPod-specific adapters (i.e., adapters made for your particular model of iPod) as not every iPod will line up in the speaker cradle. Make sure to check the instructions to see if you’ll need an adapter, and if so make sure the adapter is included or that you can get one from an Apple store.

I have one of these at the office. Picked it up at BB&B a year or so ago.

Recently I’m experiencing a problem with the volume control. When I try to turn up the volume while listening to the iPod, the volume goes down and it switches over to the radio. It’s an intermittent problem, and what do I want for 30 clams anyway? I think it sounds good. Good enough for me, in an office environment. It works with my old iPod, and also my iPod Touch.

The possibilities are really endless.

Logitech stuff has a good reputation, although most of them run around $100. Some of their portable stuff has a problem where the sound will cut off if there is a silent or quiet passage. They do it in order to save battery life, but you can’t defeat the feature. It won’t be a problem if you listen to pop songs, but it can be a nuisance if you listen to classical music or anything that gets quiet. Logitech has known about the problem for years, it’s been discussed in their support forum and they just don’t care.

Also, the models with built-in lithium batteries don’t allow replacement of the batteries, so they’re basically a disposable product that will wear out in a few years.

You want something with an auxiliary input so you can use it with future iPods and other products when Apple decides to make the dock connector obsolete.

Here’s a refurb of a model that has good reviews, for $50: It uses regular AA batteries.
Another model, but it looks ugly to me:

For fixed home use I’d recommend using a regular stereo setup with a pair of bookshelf speakers. There are some great bargains on Craigslist, but it can be tough to do the whole thing for $50 and within your size requirement.

I have gotten a couple of the 10 dollar speaker sets for the kids; look at Eckerds or Walgreens or similar.

There are dozens of cheapies out there, but honestly, you’ll eventually just throw it away.

I know it blows your budget to hell, but please consider the Bose Soundock.
The sound is incomparable, the size is right, has a battery or AC power, and you won’t be disappointed no matter where you take it or play it.

New is about $200, but look around on Ebay or CL.

The cheap toys will work for the hospital, but consider what you want in the future.
This thing will fill your house or yard with music.

good luck, and happy baby.

You can use any normal pair of computer speakers with any iPod that has a mini headphone jack. That’s why you can find them for $5-$10.

They sound pretty crappy IMO. I don’t know what to say about quality for under $50. I went shopping for a good iPod speaker system a couple years ago, and ended up spending $150. Are you happy with your computer’s speakers? If so, unplug them and use them in the hospital, and decide later if you want to do something more permanent.

I have a slightly cheaper version of the Bose player. It doesn’t have battery power so it’s a but less flexible, and it doesn’t doesn’t have an audio input so you can’t plug in other types of sound sources. It has just the docking station.

But it’s cheaper, and cheaper still because at the factory store they sold units that had been returned after a “30-day free trial offer”. So I got one slightly used, but still warrantied.

I have this JBL On Stage speaker thingo, and it’s FAB! I use it when I travel, and it’s nice and compact. Charges the iPod, too. I also use it when I’m setting up for outdoor markets. Battery life is great; I use rechargeable ones. Has adaptors for all the different types of iPods.

I initially bought a refurb unit on eBay, directly from JBL, but it had issues, so they sent me a brand-new one free. Works for me!

I have this iPod dock, and it works pretty well.

Sorry, couldn’t resist. :slight_smile:

Thanks for the suggestions so far, especially the reasonable ones. :wink:

Um. Bose and/or Beemers need not apply. Did I mention we’re expecting a baby in a month? Also, I’m unemployed and my husband is underemployed. Also also, we aren’t audiophiles, generally like to keep the volume down, have a small house, don’t care about hearing music outside the designated room as mentioned in the “Requirements” in the OP, and honestly probably won’t use the thing all that much, or be scrutinizing the experience when we do.

For those still playing along, I’m looking at these models now:
[li]iLive CD and Radio Home Music System with Docking and Recharging Station for iPod[/li][li]Philips Executive 30-Watt Micro Speaker System with iPod Dock[/li][/ul]
Both are running around $45-50 (delivered) on eBay and have decent reviews on Amazon.
I’m watching ones like this, too:
[li]Jensen JIMS-285 Wall Mountable Universal Docking Digital Music System for iPod[/li][/ul]
because they sometimes go for more like $30-35 (delivered) on eBay, though they have few and mixed reviews on Amazon.

You might notice that all three play CDs as well as docking iPods – after browsing a bunch of stuff I realized that feature would be convenient.

Oh, and Boyo Jim, that’s a good idea about computer speakers, but we both use laptops. We want to have music independent of the laptops. I’m not sure we have a pair of separate working computer speakers in the house these days. We could buy some new ones, sure – I saw a decent-looking pair at the drugstore yesterday for $15 – but I’d rather get what we actually want, pay the extra $20 or $30, and get a step up in quality of sound. Even if it’s only one step.

If you really want to go cheap and both listen to the same music, try this
Can’t beat the price.
Or for speakers, I have a set of these. Not real loud, but plenty good enough for a labor room.
Neither one of these is Bose or BMW quality but the price is right.

I have an older version of this, which is over your $50 limit, but it works well and doesn’t take up much space.

For the record, the speaker company is called B&W, short for Bowers & Wilkins. No affiliation with the Bavarian Motor Works.

There’s a sight that reviews Ipod accessories. They like the first Logitech that I recommended.

If you tell us where you live, we could look on Craigslist and see if there are any good deals.

In the long run when you have some money to spare, for home stereo, I recommend looking for a stereo receiver, any working one because the speakers are what really matter. People sell receivers really cheap on Craigslist, or sometimes free. Then you need a pair of speakers. You can get a nice pair of bookshelf speakers for $150-200 new. You can also buy used but you have to know what to look for. Of course a regular stereo receiver will be bigger then what you want, but maybe you could find a place for it. You could try looking for a miniature receiver from an “executive shelf system” from Onkyo, Denon or Yamaha, but they tend to be hard to find. In a pinch you could even use the head from boombox type system with detachable speakers, and use better speakers because they matter more than the electronics.

B&W speakers are terrific. I’ve owned several pair of them over the years and never been disappointed, even with their bottom-shelf models.

thirdname, just so’s you know, my “Beemer” comment was for squeegee, not you. And thank you for the link to ilounge! Just what I needed.