Q: I’m looking for some non-Bluetooth speakers with a Lightning Dock for charging my iPhone. It seems everybody is going with Bluetooth these days, but I really have no interest in paying extra for Bluetooth, and I actually want speakers I can use at my workplace where wireless equipment isn’t permitted—I actually have to keep my iPhone in Airplane Mode when I’m at my desk. Is there anything still out there that doesn’t use wireless of some kind? I know there are cheap wired speakers that connect to the headphone jack, but I’d really like something with a Lightning Dock so I can charge my iPhone at the same time. Thanks.
A: Although you’re right that the speaker industry seems to be moving rapidly toward wireless technologies, dock-based speakers have not been completely phased out. The options became a bit more limited with Apple’s switch to the Lightning connector, but there are still a couple of decent options available.
JBL’s OnBeat Micro (iLounge Rating: B-) is a good option that is still available. In your specific situation, don’t be thrown off by its low rating; it’s a good speaker in terms of sound quality and is in fact nearly identical to the JBL Flip, which won our Speaker and Accessory of the Year awards for 2012. Our main concern with it—and the main reason for the lower rating—was the price; there isn’t really a “Bluetooth premium” any more, and wireless speakers are generally better options for most users. However, for a user in a specific case where Bluetooth is simply not an option, the OnBeat Micro is a good choice.
Another option worth taking a look at is the Philips DS1155 (iLounge Rating: B). This is a slightly less expensive option with equivalent sound quality to the OnBeat Micro, but sacrifices some of the portability, lacking any kind of option for battery power. This is a good option if you plan on leaving the speaker at your desk, but will obviously be a limitation if you want more flexibility for moving the speaker around or taking it with you on the road.