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Pioneer Line of iPhone/iPod Docks First Look

Pioneer XW-NAC3-K Dock

Pioneer XW-NAC3-K Dock


  • Product Name: Pioneer iPhone/iPod Docks
  • Manufacturer: Pioneer Electronics
  • Review Date: May 25, 2010 16:40
  • MSRP: $299-$449
  • First Impression: Pretty Cool


Works with iPhone Certified Dock for iPod & iPhone

  • 2.1-Channel Full-range Speaker System with Built-in Downfiring Subwoofer
  • Charges your Apple Product while in the Dock
  • Bluetooth Ready for wireless music transmission from A2DP Profile Bluetooth-enabled PCs and cell phones (requires optional Pioneer Bluetooth adapter (AS-BT100)
  • Ultra-rigid Double Frame Construction
  • $449.00


Double Dock for iPod & iPhone Featuring Built-in Bluetooth, Internet Radio and DLNA Compliance

  • Works with iPhone Certified
  • Dual Docks featuring Dual Mix play for shuffling between two Apple devices
  • Built-in Bluetooth for wireless music transmission from A2DP Profile Bluetooth-enabled PCs and cell phones
  • Access to thousands of Internet radio stations
  • Composite video output for stored movie, TV and streaming YouTube A/V Entertainment
  • $449.00

Double Dock for iPod & iPhone Featuring Built-in Bluetooth

  • Works with iPhone Certified
  • Dual Docks featuring Dual Mix play for shuffling between two Apple devices
  • Built-in Bluetooth for wireless music transmission from A2DP Profile Bluetooth-enabled PCs and cell phones
  • Composite video output for stored movie, TV and streaming YouTube A/V Entertainment
  • $349.00


Home Theater Dock for iPod & iPhone, Featuring DVD, CD and USB Memory Playback and 1080p via HDMI

  • Works with iPhone Certified
  • DVD and CD Player Featuring HDMI Output for 1080p Upscaling of DVD Content
  • 2-Channel Dynamic Digital Amplifier
  • $299.00


It wasn't that long ago when most of us were still wondering why everyone was putting an "i" on the front of everything. Now, if you don't own an iPhone, you surely have an iPod. If not... we'll Steve Jobs will get around to you eventually. Pretty soon we'll be watching our iTVs in our iHomes commuting to iWork in our car (Apple's gonna skip cars and go straight to the iJetpack). For now, though, manufacturers and pumping out "i" compatible devices and the public is lapping them up.

Pioneer has been an early adopter of the "i" generation with their "Works with iPhone" line of receivers. The most recent generation is showing out of the box compatibility and some of the more expensive receivers can even be controlled via iPhone app. While those that still prefer physical media, or just are more interested in high definition audio from DVD-As, SACDs, and Blu-rays, an iPod is a convenience item best used to mollify unruly children or to distract during working out. Others, however, find that they just can't live without having their music and media available in a small, sleek, easy to lose/steal case.

Pioneer Electronics has taken the next iStep and released a line of "Works with iPhone" AV docking systems. At first, we thought this was an add-on to their receiver line boasting more functionality but that wasn't the case. Instead, these are the next iteration in what we used to call boomboxes. The Pioneer docking systems come in three flavors - NAS, NAC, and NAV. While they, seemingly for confusion's sake, include a bunch of other numbers and letters in the model designation, these are the ones that matter. We'll start with the NAS line.

The XW-NAS3/-K "Audition Series" comes in two colors, white and black (the -K at the end indicates the black model - presumably for "Kuro" which is Japanese for Black). This dock looks very much like a center channel speaker with rounded edges. Like all the docks in the new line, it "Works with iPhone" which means that it will charge your iPod/iPhone and you can receive calls while it is in use. This means you won't have to switch your iPhone into "airplane" mode. The XW-NAS3 is a 2.1 system with an integrated downfiring "subwoofer" for additional bass. Two "full range" 52mm drivers take care of the rest of the frequency range. The cabinet has a double frame construction to reduce noise from vibrations.


Other than the iPod/iPhone dock on top, the XW-NAS3 has a 3.5mm jack for connection to other types of MP3 players plus component and composite video outputs for video output to your display. Since the XW-NAS3 is Works with iPhone certified, it can use all of your iPhone's network functions including streaming YouTube. In addition, there is an adapter jack on the back of the unit for integration with the optional AS-BT100 Bluetooth add-on. With this, you can connect any Bluetooth capable device and stream its content. This includes other smart phones like Blackberrys and Androids, computers, and even other iPods. The XW-NAS3 will retail for $449.

The NAC "Duo" line also comes in two flavors but this time the differences are not just cosmetic. The XW-NAC1-K and XW-NAC3-K are both white with black grills. Aesthetically, they look the same except that the NAC3 has an LED readout on the front. The first thing you'll notice about the NAC line is their "Duo" namesake - the dual iPod docks on top (see main article picture). Like the NAS line, these docks are Works with iPhone certified so they can access all the network features of the phone. Of course, it can now access two iPods/iPhones at once. The other major addition to this line is that they are Bluetooth capable out of the box (no add-on adapter required). This means that they can stream content from your Bluetooth devices natively. 

The downside is that you are losing the component video output in favor if just a composite connection. The 3.5mm jack is still available for additional audio devices but you lose the integrated subwoofer. Without that, you can expect a much thinner sound. But, for some, that is a small price to pay for two iPods in the same dock. Add to that a $100 cheaper price tag over the NAS series, and the XW-NAC1-K might be what you want.

Remember that the NAC series had two models? So far, we haven listed all the functionality of the NAC1. The XW-NAC3-K as all the same functionality plus additional features. First, it adds an Ethernet port on the back of the unit. This means that you can connect it to your network to access such content as Internet Radio (requires a vTuner service subscription). On top of that, it can access your home network and stream content from any DLNA device. That's right, the XW-NAC3-K is DLNA compliant. So if you have music on your desktop and want access to it, you can stream it directly to your XW-NAC3-K. Of course, these functionality increase the price so that you once again at $449.

Lastly, Pioneer has released their HTD system - the NAV line. These two docks will share a feature set and price but will come in two colors - the white XW-NAV1-K and black XW-NAV1K-K. The price point of these two are definitely aimed at the consumer on a budget at just $299. For that price, you'd expect a few corners to be cut over the previous models but we've found that the feature set is just completely targeted to a different buyer. First, like the others, the XW-NAV1-K is Works with iPhone certified. It has a 3.5mm jack for integration of other audio devices, and it has a composite video output. Here, the similarities to the other docks ends. 


The XW-NAV1K-K has a DVD/CD player, and FM tuner and a USB port. It is designed as a desktop "all-in-one" system for those on a budget. We see this as a great solution for student who are space and budget challenged but are looking for maximum functionality. On the back, the unit has left and right analogue audio outputs and also an HDMI port. In a surprising move, the XW-NAV1-K has 1080p video upconversion over HDMI. From what we can tell from the spec sheet, the HDMI output is for the DVD video only and the composite video is for iPod. The USB port can be used to connect external storage devices (JPEG, MP3, DivX, WMA supported) or you can rip CDs to a USB key in MP3. The integrated alarm clock and FM tuner make it clear that the XW-NAV1K-K is meant to be a multipurpose solution. While we'd have liked to see an input or two (even analogue ones) and full HDMI support, this is clearly a device that will appeal to a certain segment of the population.


So, what do you want out of an iPod dock? Everyone wants full iPod/iPhone integration and all of the Pioneer offerings have that. If you want better sound quality they have one with an integrated subwoofer. If you want connectivity, they've got one with two iPod docks, integrated Bluetooth, and DLNA certification. If you want an all-in-one box, they've got one that upconverts DVDs to 1080p and wakes you up in time for class. While you'll need to do your research to make sure which Pioneer model is right for you, you're going to find that there is something there for everyone. When launching a new line of products, that's exactly what you want. In that alone, Pioneer has succeeded.

For more information, please visit www.pioneerelectronics.com.

Unless otherwise indicated, this is a preview article for the featured product. A formal review may or may not follow in the future.

About the author:
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As Associate Editor at Audioholics, Tom promises to the best of his ability to give each review the same amount of attention, consideration, and thoughtfulness as possible and keep his writings free from undue bias and preconceptions. Any indication, either internally or from another, that bias has entered into his review will be immediately investigated. Substantiation of mistakes or bias will be immediately corrected regardless of personal stake, feelings, or ego.

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