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Altec Lansing Octiv Stage 450 Review  Print E-mail
Home Theater Loudspeakers Speaker Systems
Written by AVRev.com   
Monday, 31 January 2011

The influence of Apple's iDevices in today's marketplace gets stronger with every passing day and the iPad is certainly taking the home theater market by storm.  Popular applications like Netflix, hulu Plus and Pandora are dazzling the masses while it's also being found useful as a custom remote control for home automation and other uses around the house.  There haven't been an enormous amount of speaker systems that come with iPad specific docking moldings, but that trend will likely change as the iPad continues to dominant the tablet market.  One such device that arrive early in the product life cycle of the iPad is the Altec Lansing Octiv Stage 450, a compact speaker system with the ability to mount the iPad on a large docking stand.  

Design:

The device is very simple in design.  The base of the unit measures only a bit wider than the iPad and you will find a row of buttons at the bottom of the unit for power & volume.  Behind the grill, you will find two 2-inch neodymium drivers.  On the back, you will find the power plug as well as an Auxiliary in (3.5mm jack) for another source.  Above the base, there’s a black plastic cradle that supports the iPad and allows it to rotate to the horizontal or vertical viewpoint.  The iPad snaps easily into the plastic molding and looks very stylish with the iPad installed.

altec lansing front view

One minor quibble about the Octiv Stage 450 is that if you are using the official iPad case from Apple, you have to remove the case each time you want to insert your iPad.  It’s a small point, but definitely not something I have to worry about with my iPhone as most cases fit on pre-built docks, even other Altec Lancing products.  However, the casing of the Octiv Stage 450 is incredibly secure and I loved the ability to rotate / angle the screen depending on my position in the room.

The remote that comes with the unit seems like it was designed for an older iPod rather than with the iPad in mind.  I found the vast majority of the buttons on the remote to be useless and basically only used it for volume control.  You still have to navigate via the iPad screen to launch applications, but functions like pause and play are mapped to the remote once the media is playing.  There were rare occasions when I felt like I needed the remote as it always seemed faster to just make the adjustments on the iPad instead.  It’s also a line-of-sight remote, so be wary of pointing the remote directly at the unit.

Testing:

Primarily, I’ve been using the Octiv Stage 450 as a place to watch Netflix on my desk while working on graphic design or surfing the net.  As an expanded sound system to watch movies, performance is generally y lacking; especially on bass heavy, action movies.  The performance on television show, sitcoms in particular, is a much better use case as most shows / sitcoms are heavier in the mid range.  I definitely prefer the performance over my regular iPad speaker as I can increase the volume levels in the house and fill up my office with sound relatively well.

Altec Lencing side viewI also used the Octiv Stage 450 as a bedside sound system, mostly for listening to jazz late at night before bed or a mix of alternative rock during the day if I happened to be in the bedroom.  Again, it performs well in smaller rooms if you aren’t stressing the two drivers.  Music genres with heavier bass lines, such as hip-hop, aren’t going to do well on the Octiv Stage 450, specifically generating a high level of distortion at high volumes.  It’s also not going to do well in rooms larger than 12 by 12 or work for larger parties of 15 or more people.  There’s just not enough volume to carry throughout a crowded space without distorting the media.

Beyond Netlifx, I also tested Pandora, iTunes and other video applications like VLC through the Octiv Stage 450 and all of them worked through the speaker system.  Altec Lansing also offers a couple applications called Alarm Rock and Music Mix, but they really didn’t seem like that they brought extended functionality beyond my regular apps.

Conclusion:


On design alone, I really wanted to love the Octiv Stage 450 as it offers a highly level of functionality for my iPad around the house and helps other people in my household interact with it.  But the performance as a sound system is seriously lacking for any serious listener and even the casual listener with a bass heavy play list is going to be very disappointed.  However, I would recommended it to the casual listener, with a lighter play list, that’s looking for a simple compact system for a home office or perhaps the bedroom.  It’s definitely user friendly for everyone in the house and can make for a fairly inexpensive upgrade to your current iPad speakers.  The MSRP for the Octiv Stage 450 is $150, but the speaker system can typically be found online for about $110 to $120. 






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