Want to turn your iPad into an iMac? The ArtStation Pro will get you halfway there with a simply designed dock that'll mimic a desktop computer with your iPad attached.
Jump into an electronics store and you'll inevitably wade through a sea of Apple-attach docks, and there usually isn't much discerning one from the other. iLuv has specialised their otherwise quite generic iPad dock just enough to make it stand out from the overflowing crowd, but only if you get creative with the applications.
Coming in either black or white, iLuv's thrown in a suitably edgy but very subdued design that matches the iPad (in whichever colour you choose) with the ArtStation Pro, complimenting the Apple design rather than stealing its limelight. Across the glossy top surface sits five buttons for track selection, volume control and play/pause on attached i-devices that lend themselves to the symmetry of the overall design. The only deviation here is a power button on the right.
The fixed docking arm hangs over the middle from the back, with the headpiece that attaches to the iPad sitting on a tilting joint to point up or down a few degrees each way. There's an iPhone bracket and iPad bracket thrown in that slot smoothly but firmly into the docking arm to keep your devices held steady. For every other device, you'll have to make do with slotting it in without any specialised grooves. It'll take any Apple device like iPods and iPhones, but the large arm doesn't do much for looks while nothing's docked and only really suits an iPad.
|The ArtStation with a wireless keyboard|
Here comes what might be the key selling point for many, where the design mimics a PC when an iPad is docked. The tilting headpiece spins anticlockwise 90 degrees and back upright so that iPads can be viewed either portrait or landscape, and considering the y-axis tilting in tow, it acts very similar to setting up a comfortable viewing angle on a monitor. If the dock sits on your desk, it's easy to dip the iPad down to sit at eye level as you would your PC. But to complete this pseudo-iMac, you'll need to fork out extra for a wireless keyboard, like the Apple version for $75.
To keep the unit self-sufficient, there's a mini-USB port around the back to connect a PC to the device so that attached iPads can be synced with iTunes without needing to switch between computer and dock. Next to this port is a 3.5mm input for those looking to use the speaker dock with other music players or notebooks. Oddly enough, they haven't thrown in a double-ended 3.5mm cable, so you'll need to BYO to use other music players.
iLuv helps in the transition with its iLuv App that adds internet radio, alarm functions and clocks to the dock, but this app can be used without an iLuv dock, and there are already other apps that do more than it anyway. But when it comes to listening to your Internet radio, the performance is underwhelming for a unit that costs up to $300.
The unit houses two main drivers and two tweeters, all on the front face under a thin, fabric mesh. These aren't the best quality for what you're paying though, with the high-end treble and mid-section of sound muddying into each other rather than delivering clear sound on each level of the sound spectrum. And with no dedicated subwoofer, the low-end is crunchier than it is smooth. Acceptable for typical radios, but not for an Apple-attach you'll probably be using mostly for music. Though it's by no means intended for audiphiles, and for the casual content consumer the sound quality would be more than apt.
To control your music, they've thrown in a small, minimalist remote control that takes over the basic controls of an iPhone: skip track, pause, etc. When you don't need the remote, it slots seamlessly behind the unit in a magnetic groove. It keeps it out of the sight but close at hand, with just enough magnetic attraction to keep it held firm but loose enough to pull off without force - a tiny addition, but it hasn't been overlooked. The downer is that the remote isn't very responsive, and requires a firm push of each button to register.
iLuv's AirStation Pro is an attractive option for iPad owners who want to set up their portable device like a desktop while they're at home. The sound is as good as you get at for the price and the wireless keyboard accessory is handy if you intend on creating a virtual PC out of your iPad. If you're willing to go to the trouble and fork out for it, the visual aesthetics of the iLuv/Apple combination may be enough for Mac enthusiasts.