Looks can be deceiving, and it is really easy to underestimate the Octiv 650.
From the front it looks like a rectangular fairly standard speaker with rounded corners. But Altec Lansing has managed to place a heap load of power, functionality and clever ideas within this dock that makes it one of the best available.
For one it is powerful despite the small size. This is accomplished by having a subwoofer at the heart pointing downwards. The Octiv 650 is perfectly capable of covering a living room with sound while having a party of 10-20 people in the room. It is not enough if you want to have a disco, but rather have a loud kind of background to the drinking and shouting. It can power a dance/disco in a bedroom for a couple of teens practising their Let’s Dance moves. I started using the 650 in our kitchen, and soon found myself enjoying the cooking much more than using a smaller Sony dock stationed there earlier. When the 650 moved out into the living room it replaced the Beats by Dr Dre BoomBox, as test subject, and on lower volumes it managed to stand up to it quite well. For those Friday afternoons when work is done, and you just want to pump some bass it soon showed a lack of volume. The bass is always there, but there is a general limit to how loud the 650 can go. In a large room that leaks sound through doors, and portals it can’t compete with larger speakers.
The sound is clear with a slight bass edge to it when everything is set to nominal levels. There are controls for volume, bass and treble on top of the dock. You can mess up the sound, or tune it depending on your knowledge and preference. I personally set the bass up by 60%, and treble 40%. That works well for Beastie Boys, Maskinen, Infected Mushroom and other bass heavy music. Switching to jazz I rather go up a bit more on treble, but keep the bass. Metal I generally switch down bass to 20%, and treble to 20% with higher volume instead. I think it is fun to play around with sound this way.
As for functionality the Octiv 650 has most of what I would like to see in a speaker dock. You can place your iPhone 4/4S into the 650, and play movies from it on your TV. The cable to use this function is not included, but I found one in my special cord drawer that most of us tend to have nowadays. You can also use an aux in on the 650 to play music form any source with a 3.5 mm connector.
The remote included is fine, but to me a dock is something I rather walk to and change things without the remote. Most of the time I approach the dock because I have got a message from someone, or I have a move to make in Hero Academy. The dock holds the phone really well with the actual speaker as backing. This means it is easy to work with the phone while in the dock. Texting, checking up on recipes or playing games in portrait mode work really well.
I have nothing bad to say about the Altec Lansing Octiv 650, and that is a rare thing. If I had a chance to design a speaker dock this is how I would do it. The only thing I might have considered adding would be a battery to make it even more portable. It doesn’t stand out, as either lavish or cheap like other docks. It looks at home wherever I place it. The sturdy design combined with great functionality means that it will work well for most users. I recommend the Octiv 650 to anyone looking for a powerful mid-size speaker dock.