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Altec Lansing Octiv 650 review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £152
inc VAT

The Octiv 650 has a punchy sound and makes it easy to watch iPhone movies on your TV, but it's expensive

We’ve been impressed by the low prices and high audio quality of Altec Lansing’s Octiv range of iPod docks. The Octiv 650 is one of the most expensive and feature-packed. The 650’s two integrated speakers and subwoofer in its base give it full 2.1 sound, making it equivalent to many desktop speaker sets. Its compact single-unit design means you don’t get much separation between the speakers, though, so there’s not a great sense of space or positioning.

Altec Lansing Octiv 650 front

The 650 has more bass than any iPod dock we’ve used. At its default settings, the booming lower register almost drowns out the rest of the sound. Fortunately, there are bass and treble EQ settings, which can be changed using either the dock’s iPod Touch or iPhone controller app or by pressing buttons on the top. We had to reduce the bass to just above its lowest setting to produce a more pleasing sound, and even then it was still rather strident. Fortunately, higher notes hold their own, although we slightly reduced the treble alongside the massive bass reduction to prevent it from sounding harsh and imbalanced. Sound quality overall is acceptable, but while not bad for an iPod dock, it’s mediocre for a £150 2.1 speaker system.

Fortunately, the Octiv 650 has some unusual features to back up its price. The most noteworthy are the component video outputs on the back. Cleverly, they can also be switched to composite mode if your TV lacks a component input, although component will output higher-quality video. You can switch modes using either the Octiv controller app or a button on the main unit itself. You can also switch easily between PAL and NTSC video formats.

Altec Lansing Octiv 650 back

No sound is sent to your TV, because the Octiv 650 is designed to be used instead of your TV’s speakers. It sounds better than built-in TV speakers, but it’s no replacement for a good sound bar or surround sound system. An auxiliary input means you can even connect your TV’s audio output to the dock to use when watching TV programmes rather than movies stored on your iPod.

Although the video output is useful if you keep lots of video on your iPod, the Octiv 650 doesn’t sound good enough to justify its price. Its remote control is small and feels cheap and its bass can dominate the rest of the sound. We’d rather buy a decent set of powered 2.1 speakers and an iPod video output cable from Apple.


Rating ***
Speaker configuration 2.1
Power consumption standby 6W
Power consumption on 6W
Analogue inputs 3.5mm stereo
Digital inputs none
Dock connector iPod
Headphone output none
Satellite cable lengths N/A
Cable type N/A
Controls located main unit
Tone controls bass and treble
Price £152

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