JBL Kicks Off the Deluge of Lightning-Equipped iPhone 5 Speaker Docks (Update: Hands-On)

By Sam Gibbs on at

Well that didn't take long. JBL's just unleashed the 'world's first' Lightning speaker docks for your shiny new iPhone 5, iPod touch, iPad Mini or 4th gen iPad. You do want a speaker dock, right?

Two of the things are on offer, the portable OnBeat Micro and the tabletop Venue LT. The £80 OnBeat Micro packs five hours of playback, from two full-range 'room-filling' speakers, and has a USB socket to power and play from other portable devices, just in case you haven't got yourself an iPhone 5 or iPad Mini yet.

The Venue LT on the other hand packs Bluetooth for streaming from up to eight devices, along with the 'hidden' Lightning connector. Two full-range speakers and a 'Slipstream' port provide the sound for a £200 asking price.

No doubt this is just the first of a whole raft of speaker docks for the new Apple connector, and first doesn't always mean it's any good, but we should have ears on soon, so we'll update when we've had a listen.

Update: Just had a quick hands-on with the OnBeat Micro (sadly, no Venue *sniff*). Basically, it's a speaker dock with a 19-pin connector in the top. Audio quality is good, and surprisingly distortion-free towards the top end. The sound quality's decent, certainly big enough to fill the meeting room we were in. Hardware is like any other JBL speaker you've seen -- solid, and the swivelling pin that lets you adjust the viewing angle is a nice touch.

I'd never in a million zillion years buy one, though, since it runs off 4 freaking AAA batteries when it's not plugged into the mains. Yeah, it's the first Lightning-equipped speaker dock and all, but since JBL themselves admitted that the competition's not far behind, my advice is: wait. Unless you have a small pile of AAA batteries that you wanna burn through.

Chris Mills contributed to this article.