If you're not familiar with the name, Swiss firm Lenco has been producing precision audio products since the 1940s, particularly vinyl turntables. Newly launched, the Lenco iPT-223 looks to both the future and recent past, combining iPod dock and card reader with CD/DVD player and FM radio in one value-for-money package. See also Group test: what's the best speaker set?
The tower speaker system is over three feet tall and yet has a neat enough footprint to sit just about anywhere in the home. Lenco actually encourages experimenting with positioning the speaker and uses what they rather ambitiously call a 'Sonic Emotion 3D chipset,' a proprietary technology, to ensure no audio 'blind spots.' In short, the system, based on wavefield synthesis, promises an impressive 6.1 surround sound experience from a single unit. Visit Arcam rCube.
The reality falls a little short of these lofty aspirations, producing a sound that will be fine for many ears but lacks that special something that separates products sold in mainstream high street retailers from the specialist audiophile market. The tower speaker produces 90 watts through six speakers and subwoofer and yet lacks midrange, detail and the stereo separation found in traditional audio speakers. This is the compromise you make with such an all-in-one solutions. That said, it’s still an attractive sound and proposition, with the ability to adjust bass and treble to suit your particular musical tastes and DVD viewing.
Build wise, the iPT-223, at 9 kg is reassuringly heavy, which means you may need help moving it from room to room or even around the room. Finish is good, not too flimsy or plasticky, although the side speaker grills aren't a perfect fit, and our review sample showed small signs of glue or similar bonding adhesive.
The black design, with silver buttons and band, and blue backlit LCD, is unlikely to offend the eyes though looks dated in comparison to some recent Apple friendly speaker systems. The tower also quickly shows finger marks and dust and there appears to be no cover included in the package to protect the iPhone/iPod dock when not in use.
Round the back is an SD/MMC card reader, Scart output, HDMI output and auxiliary input for any other portable audio players you might have around the house. The iPT-223 comes with a neat, fully featured remote, although the main functions are repeated on the tower itself, should you decide to hide the remote down the side of the sofa or bed. The built-in FM radio with 10 station presets and RDS function performed well using the supplied wire antenna. We can only hope Lenco adds DAB to future models to cover those stations, and split broadcasts, not available on FM.
At £229.99, the iPT-223 is a significant price hike on its predecessor the IPT-2, which retails at around £150. That said, the iPT-223 offers a better feature range and for some will be the ideal one-box solution for both audio and video. An SD/MMC card reader, placed awkwardly at the back, is fine but support for USB memory sticks would have been a useful addition. We'd also like to have seen the iPT-223 play .AVI type video files directly from disc. If you're concerned about leaving electrical on stand by when away from home, the on/off button is positioned at the back and bottom of the tower, out of reach for many.