It's tempting to look at the 30-pin "legacy" iPhone connector-equipped accessory and stereo market as yesterday's news. With the new Lightning connector gracing the iPhone 5 and both the new iPod touch and iPod nano, plus high-quality A2DP Bluetooth streaming support in iOS and other portable devices, it's clear that the next generation of audio gear is going to be re-engineered for Apple's new direction.
Then again: There are hundreds of millions of iPods out there, and hundreds of millions more iPhones and iPads, all featuring the vintage dock interface. Plus, Apple's still selling two models each of iPhone (4S, 4) and iPod (4th-gen touch, the iPod classic) that haven't gone to Lightning. While the attention and excitement will be around the Lightning accessories when they arrive, the classic 30-pin dock ecosystem will be good business for years to come.
With that future/current split focus in mind, consider the compact and handsome Contour 100i alarm/radio dock from Pure. This unit has the audio oomph to stand out in a den or family room, but with a low profile that would make it at home in a kitchen or office. If you're looking for a dock that plays nicely with both iPhones and iPads (to say nothing of a yet-to-be-announced yet strongly anticipated 7" iPad mini) it's a contender.
The Contour, which could double as a hostile space fighter in a backyard film project, has a unique "swivel dock" that rotates out from the front of the unit to expose the 30-pin dock. As other reviewers have noted, it's likely that the dock will get spun out just once and left that way in many iPhone households; still, it's a nice bit of design and makes for a sleeker profile when it's closed.
The dock is sized to support all varieties of iPhone and iPod, and even holds an iPad nicely; there is a small rubber bumper that prevents the device from leaning directly on the speaker. All iOS devices, including the iPad, charge from the dock port. In addition to playback of iPod-class devices, the unit also sports an FM radio and a 1/8" stereo aux-in option.
The front LED display of the Contour shows the time and dual alarm settings, plus the FM station (including RBDS song info, where supported) or iPod song details while music is playing; this works with non-Apple music apps like Spotify as well as with the bundled Music app. There's a compact remote control with the expected functions, which tucks neatly behind the Contour on a magnetic perch.
The Contour's sound is surprisingly big and clear for such a small unit (20W of power). It's not as powerful on the low end as the similarly-styled (and subwoofer-equipped) Breathe and Luna 5 Encore speaker docks from Chinese speaker giant Edifier, but it's quite good and plenty loud for a modestly sized room. I cranked it up quite a bit on both FM radio and playing back from my iPad, and it avoided clipping or distortion even on loud passages of music.
Brookstone sells the Contour 100i for $169.99, which means you have a chance to visit the store and check out the sound quality for yourself. You may be able to find slightly better deals online, but not by that much.
Pure has a stepped-up version of the Contour featuring onboard streaming audio and a portable charger option, plus a forthcoming Contour 200i Air that will support direct AirPlay playback over Wi-Fi. If what you're looking for is a simple and good-looking dock speaker that will wake you up -- and maybe the neighbors, too -- then swing by Brookstone and give the Contour a listen.
Mike is @MikeTRose on Twitter