I bought this sight unseen (without listening to it first) and only trusted the reviews I read all over the web. In particular, if you look at the reviews on the apple.com website, the comments are pretty positive and many times people compare this to the Bose Sounddock.
Recommend this product?
First of all, I don't think the Bose Sounddock sounds that great to begin with so I wouldn't exactly choose it to be the yardstick to measure all other iPod speaker systems, but given the marketshare and popularity, I suppose it makes sense to do so.
My initial thoughts on sound quality are that it's pretty terrible. When I received the package, I noticed how light the box was and I already knew I would be disappointed. I know it may sound crazy but if you ever tried picking up a high quality speaker (i.e. B&W) or a high quality amp, you will immediatley notice that they are extremely heavy. I won't speculate on what makes them that heavy but for speakers, it generally means the magnets are larger, the voice coils are larger, etc. For Amps, it generally means the heatsinks are bigger and so are the other crucial components (capacitors, etc). On a real practical level, it translates to better quality gear.
The package for this thing was feather light. When I pulled it out of the box, it was a lot smaller than I had imagined. It is maybe slightly larger than a large kleenex box of tissues (only in length).
All the anticipation in wanting to hear what it sounded like, I plugged my iPod Touch into the dock and let her rip on a track I selected and immediately I felt like someone caught me with my pants down. The highs were almost non-existent, bass was muddy and the imaging/presence was that of a cardbord box (which is what it basically looks like). I may be biased because I already own a B&W Zeppelin (see my other review on that). In summary, I like my B&W, but I don't think it's jawdropping. So, yes, my standards are high. One thing the reviews were right about is that the bass is boomy and overpowers the music. What mean by that is that the bass is overpowering, and not in a good way. Good bass should be accurate so that if you were trying to learn the bass-line, you could actually tell which note it was. Terrible subwoofers often suffer from this problem of not giving much of anything but a big loud boomy sound.
But, even objectively speaking, it's tough to understand how or why so many people would give this box such high marks considering the sub-par sound quality. In comparison to the other paperweights out there made by iHome or i[insert generic brand name here], this Yamaha unit is definitely better but then again, the iHome units are really not about sound quality as much as they are about practicality (clock radios, etc). So, I realized that the iPod speaker market is really saturated with terrible-sounding speaker systems and this one may not be the exception. That being said, if I were to compare this to the other terrible iPod speaker systems, this is probably on the higher end of the scale. JBL makes some decent units and so does Logitech, but if you are looking at no-name iPod speaker systems that are cheap, this box is definitely better than those. In comparison to JBL & Logitech's, it's tough to say how well it would do because many of those systems use the tiny titanium tweeters to produce the full range of sound, much like the computer speaker systems they produce. I'm personally not a fan of those types of systems, but if you like that type of sound, you may want to try the JBL/Logitechs.
In comparison to Bose Sounddock and the notion that it is comparable at all, I would have to say it's a farcry from the quality of the Bose. As I said before, I don't think the Bose unit is really all that great (especially for the money), but I think this Yamaha unit has no business even competing with the Bose in terms of sound quality.
Ok, so a little bit about what comes in the box: pretty much nothing but the unit and a remote (no docking cradles). The remote is actually kinda nifty because it lets you navigate your iPod menus, which is not common in any iPod speaker system. It's also very slim (about the thickness of a credit card), which just means you will lose it just the same.
The power supply is an external power inverter that has a DC connector, and other than that, there isn't much else to say about about what comes in the box.
Now, my real recommendation is to look at the Klipsch units. In particular, there is a discontinued unit (the Klipsch iGroove) that can be purchased for relatively cheap on-line or through eBay. Of the sub-$200 iPod speaker systems, I found that one in particular to be the best in quality. Although I hadn't written a review on the particular unit, I highly recommend checking it out.