Top critical review
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For what it is, it's passable
on August 31, 2009
Depending on what you're expecting, this product is either the best thing out there or a severe disappointment. First, let me say what's right about this product.
The fact that this is a self-contained unit with an OSD and a remote for ~$100 is something that's pretty rare. Other manufacturers, like Denon and Sony, have the OSD generator in their receivers so you must have a compatible receiver to operate it via the TV.
More good news is that the dock doesn't control the volume. I consider this a plus because I'd much prefer a line-level out and allow my receiver to control the volume, some may not prefer this. Docks that control the volume invariably have poorer sound quality and given the step down you're already experiencing by using compressed audio and much better speakers, introducing more distortion is simply not a good idea.
Lastly, when using the OSD, the options for navigating the lists are good, if inelegant. You can choose larger steps to scroll through massive libraries which makes finding the artists/albums/playlists you want a lot easier. This isn't to say it couldn't be easier still, but given other dock manufacturers' ways of doing things this is one of the better ones.
Now the negatives:
The OSD is very ugly. Six colors, none great, large, blocky, pixelated text (that does scroll) displaying very basic information. If you want something pretty to look at, this isn't it. If you want to be able to control your iPod from across the room without frills, you've come to the right place.
Video access can only be done via the iPod itself and only on 5G video iPods (Apple's fault, not Onkyo's), but I've never tried this to see how it works. I've only used it for music playback. If you're looking for something that does video, you're going to have to find something that works with your iPod as what will work on 5G iPods won't work on 6Gs or Touches or iPhones and vice versa.
The remote is finicky. Sometimes there's a delay, sometimes there's not. Whether I'm dealing with the Harmony or the included remote (or my receiver's remote using the connector cable) it's twitchy. The remote sensor is very directional as well. You're going to need a very clear line of sight to the dock from your controlling position. I should also mention the remote's construction is about as cheap as you could imagine.
Lastly, my dock stopped recognizing the iPod about 15 months after I bought it. It received moderate usage, but in no way was treated poorly. Maybe it's an aberration, but take it as you will.
So to sum up, if you want a way to control and navigate your iPod's MUSIC LIBRARY from your couch and don't mind a very austere display, this isn't a bad product. It sounds great, navigation isn't a chore, and it works. If you want video, care about a slick interface, or require an RF solution (no line-of-sight for the remote) this product just isn't for you.