PROS / It's incredibly light, requires no dock adapters and has advanced sound enhancement.
CONS / The SBD7500 has no remote control, limited connectivity options and no email support.
VERDICT / Despite its limited features, it goes anywhere with ease without clumsy accessories.
Of the many MP3 docking stations we looked at for this review, the Philips SBD7500 Fidelio docking speaker is the lightest model of portable iPod speakers we found. Weighing a diminutive 9.6oz, it measures roughly four inches tall, 12 inches long and only slightly more than one and a half inches thick, making it the most slender iPod dock in our lineup as well. Not only that, but it looks and sounds amazing to boot.
So why, you may rightly wonder, is it only the number six product for this category? There are three reasons, the first of which is the relatively few features it has compared with the other iPod docks in our lineup. Of the 12 features we looked for when evaluating iPod docking stations, the SBD7500 Fidelio docking speaker has only four – although to be fair, one of our feature categories, which we'll discuss momentarily, is not applicable to this speaker dock. Its fold-out stand – another features category – is only applicable to four products in this review since the other iPod docking stations have built-in stands or flat bases, so it evens out.
The most impressive and functional feature is its unique, spring-loaded docking station that plays and charges most iPod and iPhone models without requiring dock adapters for a proper fit, rendering the "includes adapters" features category irrelevant. The adapter-less iPod dock eliminates the need for any cumbersome accessories, especially when it operates on battery power, further increasing its portability. The only accessories it requires are an AC adapter (included) for at-home listening and a 3.5mm cable (also included) to connect its auxiliary input to audio devices that are not compatible with an Apple universal dock, such as an iPod shuffle, non-Apple MP3 player or even a personal computer.
The Philips Fidelio speaker dock requires four AA batteries for eight hours of cordless operation with a fresh set of batteries, which is another reason we've rated this iPod dock below other brands. Even though most people can probably use this iPod dock for two to three days on the same set of batteries, that still adds up to a lot of batteries over the course of a single month, especially if you use disposable batteries. If you purchase the Fidelio iPod speakers, you should probably buy rechargeable batteries as well.
The sound quality, on the other hand, is exceptional for a speaker dock in this price range. The SBD7500 uses dynamic bass boost (DBB) sound enhancement in conjunction with Philips' wOOx technology, which is a loudspeaker system that that uses active equalization (EQ) to maximize the output of the passive radiator diaphragm – a loudspeaker driver without an active voice coil – by increasing the driver excursion without distorting the sound. The result is enhanced low-frequency sound that is often noticeably absent in small speaker enclosures.
With relatively few features and no remote, using the Fidelio docking speaker is incredibly easy to use. The only onboard controls are an on-off power button and volume adjustment. The AC adapter jack and line input are located on the back panel of the device, and the iPod dock connector is located front and center between the speakers. Playback and all other functions are controlled from the iPod or iPhone itself, and you can still receive calls when listening to a docked iPhone.
The final reason we ranked this iPod dock sixth is the general difficulty of receiving useful customer support. There is no email address, so you have to contact customer support by phone, and the representatives we spoke with were not knowledgeable or particularly helpful. The best way to interact with a support technician is via the live chat portal that improves the accessibility, if not the quality, of customer support.
The support section of the Philips website does have a few FAQs, but not many. The links to both the user manual and the quick-start guide bring up the same, mostly useless, quick-start guide with a few illustrations and a short list of troubleshooting tips in 19 languages. The product is at least covered by a pretty standard one-year warranty.
The Philips SBD7500 iPod dock is capable of eliciting exceptional sound quality from your iPod, especially for such a small, lightweight device. If you're looking for a simple, straight-forward and portable speaker dock for your iDevice that simply docks, charges and plays your music, this is it.