Welcome to Engadget's back to school guide! The end of summer vacation isn't nearly as much fun as the weeks that come before, but a chance to update your tech tools likely helps to ease the pain. Today, we have speaker docks 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 -- and hit up the hub page right here.
If there's any post-adolescent period that deserves its own soundtrack, it's your college years. Sure, our portable audio picks will let you jam on the go, but the best collegiate experiences are shared with friends -- and listening to music should be no exception. Even if you'd prefer to keep your playlist out of your friends' feed, be it in person or online, you'll still need to wake up each morning, and what better way to ease into the waking world than with your favorite tracks? These speaker docks offer more functionality than your average smartphone clock, and they're certainly better equipped to play DJ when it comes time to close the books. Join us past the break for our 2012 picks.
On the cheap
Logitech Clock Radio S400i
For such a reasonably priced product, this guy doesn't skimp on features. Dual-alarm settings accommodate different sleep schedules, a preset time function lets you drift off without worrying about silencing your tunes and Logitech's stereo sound makes those jams worth pumping.
Key specs: 3.5mm aux jack, iPhone and iPod support, weighs 3.4 pounds.
Price: $66 on Amazon
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For those on the iOS side of things, the iMT630 offers bass drivers to enhance low-end sound, and the rechargeable lithium-ion battery means you won't be tied to an outlet.
Price: $55 on Amazon
Philips docking speaker with Bluetooth for Android
Philips' docking speaker literally puts your phone on a pedestal with its platform design. The circular shape helps the Neodymium speakers provide omni-directional sound, too.
Price: $65 on Amazon
Yes, it's a speaker dock for your iPod or iPhone, but the Ghost also lets you stream music wirelessly over Bluetooth from any compatible device. The white design is all kinds of sleek and slinky, too.
Key specs: Six hours of battery life, 3.5mm aux jack, remote control app for iOS and Android, weighs 3.1 pounds.
Price: $149 on Amazon
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The WiFi-enabled 100i lets you access internet radio and stream music from your laptop and other connected devices. Though this speaker dock doesn't pack many surprises, its swiveling dock is nifty.
Price: $150 on Amazon
JBL OnTime Micro
Compatible with iPhones and iPods, the Micro lets you set up to seven independent alarms with the music of your choice, and the loudspeaker system allows for substantially loud sound.
Price: $80 on Amazon
Money's no object
A series of tubes adds up to something quite beautiful with the DA-E750, which uses glass fiber speakers, a built-in subwoofer and vacuum tubes to push out 100 watts of audio. But let's be serious here -- the real draw is that Ivy League-opulent mahogany trim.
Key specs: iPhone, iPod and Samsung Galaxy device support, AirPlay, AllShare, Bluetooth 3.0, USB Direct Play, remote control, weighs 5 pounds.
Price: $650 on Amazon
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50 watts of power will keep you and a few dozen friends on the beat for hours at a time, and the included 3.5mm aux cable will let you connect any audio source. The downside is your roommates might hate you for the rich-kid setup, but the upside is they'll get to enjoy high-end sound engineering in a space age-worthy curved design.
Price: $294 on Amazon
Peachtree iNova Amplifier
Every dorm room needs that one pièce de résistance to salvage the bare-bones desk-and-bed setup, and what does the trick better than some minimalist audio gear? The iNova tacks on an iPod dock, but it's much more than a play-and-charge solution: it boasts an 80 watts-per-channel amplifier, a digital-to-analog converter and a class A headphone amplifier.
Price: $1,819 on Amazon
No Purchase Required to Enter or Win
Eligibility: Engadget's Back to School Giveaway (the "Giveaway") is open only to individuals who are legal residents of the fifty (50) United States (including the District of Columbia) and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are 18 years of age or older. Employees of Weblogs Inc. LLC, AOL Inc., their advertising or promotion agencies, those involved in the production, development, implementation or handling of Giveaways, any agents acting for, or on behalf of the above entities, their respective parent companies, officers, directors, subsidiaries, affiliates, licensees, service providers, prize suppliers any other person or entity associated with the Giveaways (collectively "Giveaway Entities") and/or the immediate family (spouse, parents, siblings and children) and household members (whether related or not) of each such employee, are not eligible. All U.S., federal, state and local and Canadian federal, provincial, and municipal laws and regulations apply. Void in Quebec, Puerto Rico and where prohibited by law.
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Giveaway Period: The Giveaway begins at 12:00 pm ET on August 6, 2012 and ends at 12:00 pm ET on September 7, 2012 (the "Giveaway Period"). The Giveaway Period shall be divided into fifteen (15) separate Entry Periods:
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Prizes: Fifteen (15) Grand Prize Winners will each receive a Back to School Prize Pack containing the following items: HP Envy Ultrabook 4, Sony NEX-F3, Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0), Samsung Galaxy S III (AT&T), Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight, AiAiAi Capital headphones, Western Digital My Passport (1TB) hard drive, Timbuk2 Commute Messenger laptop bag, Flying Alarm Clock, AOC 16" USB monitor, Spotify Premium subscription (1 year), Satechi Energy Station, Edifier Tick Tock, Satechi 12-port USB hub, NuForce Cube, Withings WiFi Scale, Powermat 24-hour system, Carbonite Backup (1 year), AViiQ Ready Chips, and Targus Defcon 1 lock. Approximate Retail Value of each Prize Pack is $3,203. Subscriptions are subject to issuer's terms and conditions. Activation fees and monthly service fees not included with any smartphone/digital devices. No cash or other substitution may be made, except by the Sponsor, who reserves the right to substitute a prize or portion of a prize with another prize of equal or greater value if the prize is not available for any reason as determined by the Sponsor in its sole discretion. Winners are responsible for any taxes and fees associated with receipt or use of a prize.
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