This week, accessories for Apple's new lightning dock connector are finally starting to trickle out. Starting right now, you can order two new lightning connector speaker docks from JBL. Finally, a dock for your iPhone 5. How did you ever sleep at night without one?
In general, this year's JBL products have been well designed and have sounded great for the money. We had a chance to hear the JBL Venue LT and the OnBeat Micro, and we're happy to report that the first lightning docks to market appear to be worth your while.
The JBL Venue LT already exists with an old 30-pin dock connector on a little retractable tray that'll fit both iPads and iPhones. The $200 dock features to full-range speakers that do an excellent job banging out convincing bass sound even without a built-in subwoofer. We listened to a few bluesy guitar jams on the unit an were impressed at how well it handled not just detailed guitar work but also the blast of a kick drum.
To set the EQ, you can either use the built-in bass boost and movie mode (mid-boost), or download JBL's OnBeat app that gives you some granular control over the sound. Beyond the dock connector, you can also play music on the Venue LT over Bluetooth and using the 3.5mm aux-in jack. There's also a USB port so you can plug in and charge non-lightning dock phones or other gadgets.
As for the dock connector itself, Apple's design is interesting. (Remember, the proprietary connectors are built by Apple-approved OEMs to Apple specifications.) Unlike old 30-pin ports that tend to be fixed, rigid posts, the new lightning docks have spring-loaded connectors that rock back and forth. The new connector takes a little getting used to, but they work. Plus, the play on the port means you're less likely to snap it off.
For $100, you'll be able to pick up the OnBeat Micro. The unit can be powered by AAA batteries, and it sounds very good considering the two-tiny 1.5-inch speakers inside. Because of the smaller speakers and enclosure, the doesn't have quite the low-end punch of its Venue LT big brother, but for $100, it's a bargain.