Audyssey's Lower East Side Audio Dock Air is a compact, good-sounding AirPlay speaker

Audyssey’s $400 Lower East Side Audio Dock Air is, put simply, a black, upright, rectangular slab of an AirPlay speaker. Featuring some interesting physical design decisions, it generates impressive sound.

The five-pound Audio Dock measures 8.3 inches tall, 8.9 inches deep, and 4.7 inches thick. The two nearly square sides are covered in black mesh, with the four thinner sides sporting matte-black plastic—if you were to unpack the speaker before seeing a photo of it, you’d need to check the manual to figure out which way is up and which side is the front.

On top of the unit are two tiny LEDs that indicate the Audio Dock’s power and AirPlay-connectivity status, along with a black, inset volume dial that doubles as a mute button if you push down on it. On the front of of the unit—one of the narrower sides—sit a headphone jack along something that looks like it should be a button or an infrared receiver, but is in fact merely decorative. That’s a shame, because a power button would be a fine addition to the Audio Dock. Instead, it’s always on when plugged in, and it offers no standby or off mode. As is typical of AirPlay speakers, there are no playback controls—you control playback on your iOS device or computer.

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Organize and play your media from a NAS

As computers have become more affordable and taken on increasingly important tasks in our lives, it’s common to have more than one of them on the premises. While it’s terrific that family members and co-housers needn’t line up to use a single computer, things can get confusing when you have media scattered among a group of computers that everyone would like access to.

This is exactly the situation I faced. Many computers; dabs of media here, larger dollops there; and no really solid scheme for making it available to all the devices I own. Having finally had enough of the frustration, I resolved to do something about it. This is that story.

Gather and organize

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Get smarter with iTunes U

You’ve probably noticed it in the navigation bar at the top of the iTunes Store—sandwiched between Podcasts and the much-maligned Ping—but have you ever clicked on the iTunes U link? Millions of people have, and iTunes U has seen more than 600 million downloads since its inception in 2006.

An integral part of the iTunes Store since May 2007, iTunes U is an extraordinary repository of educational content from more than 1000 universities around the world. Here’s how it works.

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Apple TV 4.4 update adds Photo Stream, NHL, and more

As part of its barrage of updates on Wednesday, Apple bumped the second-generation Apple TV’s software to version 4.4, bringing with it support for Photo Stream, AirPlay mirroring, NHL hockey, Wall Street Journal content, and more.

Photo Stream, part of Wednesday’s introductions of iOS 5 and iCloud, lets you view photos on your Apple TV that you’ve added to your iCloud account.

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Roku releases $50 LT model, adds HBO Go channel

On Tuesday, Roku introduced a new entry-level model to its streaming video player lineup, and announced the imminent addition of an HBO Go channel for all Roku devices.

The $50 Roku LT is the least expensive Roku model, and comes in a special edition purple color. Like the $60 Roku 2 HD, the LT supports 720p video and has built-in wireless networking. But unlike the members of the Roku 2 family ( ), the LT forgos Bluetooth and a microSD card slot (which also means it can't enjoy the Roku 2's new gaming options). The Roku LT should be available in early November.

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iPods: Steady as she goes

When last we met to discuss the fate of the iPod I suggested that the majority of the iPod line would live on and, in describing the shuffle, summed it up with “There just isn’t a good reason to not sell the shuffle.” If only I’d written “not sell the current iPods just as they are” and stopped, I would have been hailed as The Great Prognosticator.

But no. I had to keep my big yap flapping and imply that the 2010 nano was no great shakes and needed some kind of design change, that the iPod classic was finally going to meet its maker, and that the next iPod touch would be best served with 3G circuitry and a pay-as-you-go plan. Because that’s the way it always goes, right? New year, new iPod line.

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Apple updates iPod nano, touch models

Apple’s Tuesday press event may have focused on the iPhone, but the company found a little time to talk about minor changes to its iPod lineup, highlighted largely by price cuts for the nano and touch models.

Apple's Phil Schiller talks about the new iPod nano.

“We started the iPod because we loved music, and that hasn’t stopped,” said Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, as he announced the changes to the iPod nano and touch offerings. “We still love music, and we’re stil making iPods.”

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