Altec Lansing Octiv Stage (450) reviewSee all photos
It really doesn't take long to do a full tour around the Octiv Stage. The hard polycarbonate body consists of a pair of front-facing two-inch neodymium drivers hidden behind a piece of black cloth, and below that you have an LED along with click buttons for power and volume. On the back you'll find nothing more than an AUX-in port and a power adapter socket; and it's odd that there's no USB charging port as featured on the cheaper, dual docking Octiv Duo. We also noticed that the SMK-Link PadDock 10 has a mini-USB port that lets you sync the iPad while it's docked, so it would've been cool if the Octiv Stage sported the same feature, especially given that it costs $50 more than the PadDock. On the bright side, the Stage comes with a slim IR remote control, although the dock doesn't have a compartment for storing it away. We've been told the reason the Stage isn't as feature-complete as the Duo is mainly because Altec wanted to push the former out in time for the holidays, so it had to give up certain refinements. Since Altec put it that way, we find it even harder to justify the Stage's higher price compared to the Duo's.
To dock the iPad, you simply slide it from the open end of the cradle down to the dock connector. And yes, this means you will have to remove the iPad's case, if any. We did wonder whether the cradle will leave marks on our tablet, but after days of usage, it looks like the felt-covered tips of the two arms are keeping our iPad scratch free, plus there's also a piece of rubber to cushion the iPad's hump on the back. Oh, and in case you're wondering, the cradle just about fits our iPhone 4 and iPod nano as well -- both sans cases, of course.
We had high hopes for the Octiv Stage, but the price tag just doesn't seem to match what it offers (or the lack thereof). Sure, the iPad market is nowhere as big as the iPod's or the iPhone's, and that cradle would've no doubt incurred extra manufacturing costs, but we're still not convinced that the Stage deserves a full $50 jump from the Duo or the PadDock. If Altec wants to make up to us, it'd have to throw in the aforementioned missing features and enhance the audio quality. Other than that, the Stage is a solid piece of iPad accessory with a fair set of features.