Test one: Sound quality
As we climb into this next price category, you get a noticeable difference in the sound over many cheaper docks: the only one we felt was sub-standard for its £87 price was the View Quest Retro Radio. Available in five colours, the casing looks the part, but the front panel seems cheap in comparison, and the sound is nothing particularly special. Unless you're dead-set on the looks of the thing, we suggest you go elsewhere.
Aside from the Retro Radio, all the docks have something to recommend them sound-wise. The Sony RDP-M15iP pushes out a reasonable amount of bass for such a small unit, but vocals sound a bit flat and lifeless, and the top end isn't as well defined as some other docks. It's by no means a bad system, but at £90, it sounds a bit mediocre compared to the competition in this price band.
You want bass?
The clue to the KitSound Boom Dock's strength is in its name: boy can this behemoth shake the floor. It gives dance music a powerful, full feel and is plenty strong enough to provide the soundtrack to your house party. Our criticism of it, however, is that it's a bit of a one-trick pony: by investing so much in the bass, there's little in the way of treble clarity, meaning that it doesn't do justice to rock or even R&B tracks.
If it is bass you want, there are other options, such as the Klipsch iGroove SXT. Though it doesn't provide the thump of the Boom Dock, the bass is picked out well, and it's certainly powerful enough to give a full sound. There's also more treble to the sound, making it an altogether more versatile option.
Roughly on a par with the iGroove SXT is the similarly priced Logitech Pure Fi Anywhere 2. It's a different kind of sound you get: clearer trebles and mids, and less powerful bass, though it's still well-defined. For their price tags - both around £70 - neither are bad products. But incredibly, you can come slightly down the scale and do even better.
The Klipsch iGroove HG, which costs just £68, is something of a dark horse in this category, since it gives the two most expensive options a real run for their money. Its bass is even more powerful than the costlier iGroove SXT, but that's not the reason we prefer it. What makes this dock stand out is that it doesn't neglect the treble, so rock tracks sound full and well-balanced, with the vocals clearly popping out. And although the front of the dock is concave, the speakers are actually angled outwards, meaning it does a surprisingly good job of separating the stereo, especially given how close together the drivers are set.
For even better separation of the left and right channels, the Logic3 i-Station SoundBar is worth a look. It's a wide beast, but the sound is pleasingly fresh, with a little bit of a bass kick in there, especially if you have a play with the built-in equaliser presets (if you choose to download the accompanying app, you can adjust the five-band EQ yourself).
Our favourite dock, though, is the Logitech S715i. It combines good stereo separation and lovely clear top-end treble with punchy vocals. The bass hasn't been forgotten about either, though. It may not have the fullness or raw thump of the Klipsch iGroove HG or KitSound Boom Dock, but it's nicely balanced with the rest of the sound. This is the most versatile offering here.
Test two: Extra features
Wherever you look here, there's a sprinkling of extras to tempt you. While these shouldn't be the only things you consider, if you're torn between two or more docks after our sound quality tests, these could help you make up your mind over which to go for.
A 3.5mm aux input is standard across the range (except on the Boom Dock, which has red and white RCA phono inputs), with the Klipsch iGroove HG providing an interesting take: for devices without a dock connector (very old iPods, say), there's a cradle that sits over the speaker's dock connector with a short lead attached, meaning you can stand your device in the dock position, even though it's connected using the aux-in. A nice touch.
The Logic3 i-Station SoundBar has RCA inputs, as well as composite and component video out, and the Klipsch iGroove SXT has an S-video output, making these two docks potential complements to your home A/V system - especially the wall-mountable Logic3 model.
A couple include radios as well: the View Quest Retro Radio has a DAB tuner, offering the full range of digital stations, and the KitSound Boom Dock and Logic3 i-Station SoundBar have traditional FM/AM radios.
These three all have built-in clocks, too; the Retro Radio and KitSound Boom Dock can double up as radio alarm clocks, if you're so inclined. If portability's your thing, the internal batteries in both Logitech docks and the Sony RDP-M15iP will appeal. The View Quest Retro Radio can also run off four C-size batteries, though we always find built-in rechargeables more convenient, even if they do add weight.
And the winner is… Logitech S715i - £99
Before we get on to why we've awarded our Editor's Choice gong to the S715i, an honourable mention for the Klipsch iGroove HG. It's almost a third cheaper than the winning Logitech model, but listening to it, you wouldn't think it.
In fact, if you're into the sort of music that benefits from lots of full, punchy bass, we'd probably recommend it over the S715i. Even if you're not, it's worth a look if you don't fancy spending just shy of £100 on the Logitech S715i.
The Logic3 i-Station SoundBar is also a very respectable offering: its variety of audio inputs and video outputs mean it could sit (or hang) under your home TV to provide the soundtrack. The LCD does detract from the appearance a bit, though.
The coveted award for this sub-£100 category goes to the £99 Logitech S715i for one key reason: its versatility. Its sound attributes do justice to just about any kind of music you throw at it: rock sounds crisp yet powerful; pop is punchy; dance sounds deep and full but doesn't lose the top end; and classical sounds nice and clean.
The key thing is its ability to produce those crystal-clear treble sounds, but the bass is by no means left behind. There's an almost tactile thump to the sound when it's cranked up. It's not going to shake the floor like the KitSound Boom Dock or the Klipsch iGroove HG, but its all-round sound is better.
Its versatility goes beyond its audio prowess, too. As long as you keep it charged, the internal battery allows you to take the dock anywhere in your house and beyond to provide the soundtrack to your life.