Docks for the iPod and iPhone seem like they're getting better and better but also smaller each time we review a new one. The MagicBox Steel is a perfect example of this trend. It's small and light, but a very solidly built speaker system. It's design doesn't live up to it's name though, which is 'Steel'. One bar of what looks like steel is positioned on the front of the dock which functions as the cradle for your device to dock in. But other than that it's the only part of the dock which features a bit of a steel look. Maybe MagicBox should have incorporated a steel trim along the edges or have steel buttons? The rest of the unit is black with stereo speakers either side of the steel looking cradle and the rear of the unit has a glossy exterior. Overall the design is satisfactory but we feel elements are a tad ungroomed. However the unit is built well.
The MagicBox Steel doesn't have an internal battery facility. It uses the mains power where the input is located on the rear of the unit, next to an audio in input. The power chord supplied is quite long and I found it adequate for most scenarios where I placed the dock. But despite it not having a battery I found the speaker dock very easy to transport into different rooms, due to its small and light weight design.
Docking the iPhone or iPod via the 30 pin Connector is ultra easy, plus the docked device has rear support preventing internal damage occurring from a abrupt movement. Your device will also charge while playing music which is always a nice addition. The iDevice's and Magicbox Steel communicate with one another seamlessly and I've experienced no hiccups within this area.
To function the Steel you have two choices of control. A row of physical buttons which light up blue and run along the bottom of the unit that allow you to play & pause music, fast forward & rewind and you can control the volume here too. The buttons offer basic functions compared to the remote which offers a few additional extras such as adjusting the bass and treble. You can also choose to shuffle or repeat the song your listening to on an iPod or iPhone. The remote has quite good range with me being able to use it across quite large rooms of around 8 meters, but it doesn't work through walls.
Now let's talk speaker quality. With twin 10w speakers that come to a combined 20w, this isn't something to sniff at. The power of the sound is remarkable, it's very capable of being loud but that doesn't automatically translate into good audio quality. But in this case, it does, the audio is surprisingly crisp and pleasant. The bass and treble are adjustable but when both are maxed out the speaker proves itself in being able to carry out loud volume with tons of bass and treble and no reverberating, this must be partly down to its solid construction. The Steel just fills the room with rich and deep sound across all genres of music. Acoustically this is a notable performer, even compared to much bigger speaker docks. I've used it for around a month and have really enjoyed listening to what the MagicBox Steel had to produce. The outputted sound is far bigger than the speaker dock, a growing trend that we are enjoying the benefits of.
Overall the MagicBox Steel for the iPod and iPhone works a treat. A small and light design coupled with staggering audio quality produced from the size, topped off with a current price tag of £24.99, it sets this up as a solid speaker dock option within the price bracket.