When the iPod first appeared in 2001 it shipped with a rather handy accessory - a neat white plastic dock that enabled you to prop the music player upright, charge its batteries and exchange music files between your iPod and Mac or PC.

But when Apple cut prices of the player for the third generation, the dock stop being offered as standard. If you wanted one you had to pay an extra £25 - which is rather a lot to ask when for just £40 you can have a dock and speaker system in one.

The Intempo iDS-01 is far from unique. Apple sells seven speaker dock/charging combos through its online store alone, and there are dozens of others available through iPod accessory merchants. However that keen price tag does make the Intempo considerably cheaper than almost all of its rivals, which is why we're considering it here.

One thing that's obvious straight away is that the iDS-01 feels built to a price. The shiny white plastic is cheap and though the speaker dock is well put together, it looks and feels under-designed. The silver coloured speaker cones are a nice touch, as is the illuminated blue light switch on the back, but we'd like something a bit more tactile than the silver, touch sensitive volume buttons on either side of the central iPod dock.

Docking manoeuvres

The iDS-01 lives up to its promise of compatibility with all iPod models, chiefly by including plastic adaptors for older iPods and the iPod Mini. All models except the Shuffle can output their sound through the battery charger/audio connector in the Intempo's base, but iPod Shuffle owners will have to hook their players up to the iDS-01 by running a rather inelegant cable (supplied) between the Shuffle's headphones socket and the auxiliary input on the back.

When it comes to audio playback you pretty much get what you pay for. The Intempo's 6W per channel amplifier goes pretty loud for a device of this kind, but distortion sets in early, particularly with bass-heavy tunes that can also cause the iDS-01 to rattle and buzz.

We also noticed that the Intempo lets out high-pitched whistles and whirring sounds at the beginning, end and even in the middle of most tracks. This could be because the system is picking up disk activity sounds from the iPod - more expensive systems don't have this problem.

It's fair to say the Intempo works best with lightier, spacier sounds that don't place too many demands on the system. "High-fi quality" it's not despite the claims on the box. But for a cheap, almost disposable, speaker system for a holiday, it just about passes muster.