Welcome to Engadget's Back to School guide! We know that this time of year can be pretty annoying and stressful for everyone, so we're here to help out with the heartbreaking process of gadget buying for the school-aged crowd. Today, we've got docks and alarms in our sights -- and you can head to the Back to School hub to see the rest of the product guides as they're added throughout the month. Be sure to keep checking back -- at the end of the month we'll be giving away a ton of the gear featured in our guides.


Whether you're simply looking for something to put on your bedside table or considering an iPod dock to replace a bulky stereo, you now have more devices than ever to choose from, which can be a tad overwhelming if you're trying to stay on budget and still get something decent. As usual, however, we're here to help, and have rounded up a range of docks and alarms that should more than satisfy at any price point.

On the cheap

Altec Lansing Octiv Mini

Engadget's back to school guide docks and alarms

Cheap iPod docks don't necessarily have to be boring, as evidenced by Altec Lansing's handsome Octiv Mini, which can now be had for as little as $40. While it'll work with any iPod (or other audio device via the line-in jack), this one is best suited for iPhone or iPod touch users considering it comes with its own alarm clock app -- which, incidentally, is a great way to ensure your device is fully charged before you rush off to classes in the morning.

Price: $40 from Amazon

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Engadget's back to school guide docks and alarms

Sony Nature Sounds Clock Radio (ICF-C717PJ)

Sony's touting this one as a "nature sounds" radio, but that's not it's only standout feature -- it also has a built-in projector to display the time on your wall or ceiling. No iPod dock here, but you do get a 3.5mm audio-in cable, and it packs a few other features not usually found in a clock radio, including a calendar and an indoor temperature display.

Price: $60 from Sony Style

Mid-range

Logitech S715i

Engadget's back to school guide docks and alarms

Logitech's S715i only just made its debut earlier this month, but it's fast developing a reputation as one of the best sounding moderately-priced iPod docks around. Of course, you'll have to make do without an AM/FM radio or built-in alarm clock, but if you're looking to actually replace full-fledged stereo system with a iPod dock and still keep things on a budget, this might just be your best bet. As a bonus, it even packs a built-in rechargeable battery that promises eight hours of use.

Price: $150 from Logitech

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Engadget's back to school guide docks and alarms

Sony ICF-CL75iP

It may not boast the internet-connectedness of the Sony Dash, but the company's ICF-CL75iP might just give you a bit more bang for your buck. You'll get a big 7-inch screen for displaying photos and videos -- stored on either the 1GB of built-in memory, a MemoryStick, SD card, or an attached USB drive -- plus the ability to play audio files stored on said media and, last but not least, an iPod dock that can be conveniently tucked away when not in use.

Price: $140 from Sony Style

Engadget's back to school guide docks and alarms

iLuv App Station

Like the Octiv Mini, the App Station relies on your iPhone or iPod touch and an app to handle alarm clock duties, but it goes a bit further with a pair of speakers that deliver some decent sound for the price, and iLuv's even thrown in a nifty rotating dock for good measure -- letting you actually use a wide variety of apps while your iPhone or iPod touch is docked, hence the name.

Price: $90 from iLuv

Money's no object

Altec Lansing Mix iMT800

Engadget's back to school guide docks and alarms

It may look more like a boombox than a dock, but Altec Lansing's Mix iMT800 won't likely disappoint when it comes to delivering room-shaking sound -- and, like any good boombox, you can load it up with eight D-cell batteries to take the party outside. You'll even get not one but two auxiliary inputs to connect additional devices, and a remote that can be stored in the dock itself and clipped onto a belt.

Price: $300 from Altec Lansing

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Engadget's back to school guide docks and alarms

Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Mini

Looking for some great sound without sacrificing style? Then you might want to consider Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Mini, which keeps things considerably more compact than the company's full-sized Zeppelin but remains just as eye-catching, and should pump out enough sound to easily fill any dorm room.

Price: $400 from Amazon

Engadget's back to school guide docks and alarms

Bose SoundDock 10

Does it deliver $600 worth of sound? Maybe not, but if money is truly no object then you'll probably still be plenty satisfied with Bose's SoundDock 10, which has displaced the SoundDock II as the company's top-end iPod dock. Like Bose's other offerings, this one is stylish but understated in appearance and, at 19 pounds, it's hefty in more ways than one.

Price: $600 from Bose

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Engadget's back to school guide: docks and alarms