Creative Playdock i500 review

A good-quality speaker dock, make no mistake, but it's such a cut-throat market nowadays that even that can't match the best of the competition Tested at £100.00

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

A very able speaker system that few will find fault with, but we would appreciate just a little more for the money


  • +

    Clean, detailed and balanced audio

  • +

    battery or mains operated


  • -

    Even at this price we would expect a slightly more exciting delivery

  • -

    no video support for newer iPods

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These days we get so many iPod docks for testing that it's become very common to make a joke about it at the beginning of the review. Not this time: instead, we'll simply introduce the PlayDock i500 from Creative, a company that's begrudgingly embraced the iPod, despite having its own range of portable rivals, the Zen series.

Pretty much every iPod fits into the cradle, even the new 6th generation Classic and the new ‘fat' Nano, despite these two not being fully supported (more on that later). Everything can be operated using the fully-functioning (though not entirely pleasing) remote. Power can come from either the mains supply, or from eight C-size batteries.

Balanced sound
The performance will please many an iPod fan. The i500 remains faithful to the original audio file, offering plenty of sonic detail, clarity and punch. The bass in particular is nicely judged – providing you leave the adjustable dial near the middle.

The problem is that even though sound is perfectly respectable, it's not terribly involving or exciting, and even at this price we would expect better dynamics and insight.

Not a universal 'Pod-pleaser
Our other niggle is the lack of video support for the newer iPods. Older models' videos can be displayed using a composite cable between dock and TV, but you can't do it with the new models. Okay, this Creative did hit the market before the new Apples, but it's still a bit of a disappointment.

However, if you don't own a new iPod or aren't bothered about video support, the i500 is a very decent dock, and certainly worth a listen.

What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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