Compared to the huge number of 30-pin Dock Connector systems that used to be on the market, Philips has relatively little competition when it comes to Lightning-equipped speakers. Its new AJ7260D/37 Dual Dock Triple Charging Clock Radio ($130) bridges the gap between generations, bearing one of each kind of connector, as well as including a 2.1-Amp USB port on the back for charging a third device. This means that individuals or families can connect any iPad or iPhone, and almost any iPod. Such a solution may likely be appealing to users who have current-generation devices, but also still rely on hardware form the past.
This alarm clock has a larger footprint than many, at over 10” wide and about 7.5” deep. It’s mostly matte black plastic, including a textured surface on top, although there’s also a metal speaker grille on the front, surrounding the digital display. There, you can see information such as time and date, plus the currently selected audio input. The information is automatically sent over the first time a device is connected, so there’s no need to manually set it. Compared to iHome’s similar iDL100, the unit isn’t as attractive, and the clock face is obviously smaller.
On the back of the unit, there’s an integrated power cable—notably without the need for a large wall adapter—next to the USB port that can power your choice of devices, including any iPad. There’s also an audio in port, although no aux cable is included. A thin FM antenna sticks out of the back as well, enabling the unit to tune stations as clearly as the iDL100. Underneath, there’s a battery compartment for backup power; it takes two AAs.
At the heart of the system are its two docks. Labeled Dock 1 and Dock 2—Lightning and 30-pin, respectively—they’re arranged with the more modern connector in front of the other. The plug is unfortunately built into a wide plastic base that prohibits the use of pretty much any case. It does pivot though, which makes installing iPads easier, at least. This includes both mini and full-size iPads; rubber nubs on either side help stabilize them. Behind the dock is a 2.25” tall clear plastic support, with a rubber bumper at the top. The Dock Connector plug is pretty much the same, although the plastic around the plug is much more accommodating, and there are no nubs.
Philips uses a pair of round buttons with rings around them for the majority of the controls. On the left, the big button in the center plays and pauses the Lightning device. The top and bottom of the ring control volume up and down, respectively, while pressing on the left allows you to set the time, and pressing on the right triggers the progressive FM station scan. They also double as rewind and fast forward buttons when they’re held down. Although the physical design is mirrored on the other side of the speaker, the controls are different. The center is used to control Dock 2, but the top and bottom controls tune the FM radio. Left and right can toggle between station presets, and move forwards and backwards between tracks. There are also source, sleep, snooze, and two alarm buttons.
Much like with iDL100, we noticed some charging oddities. When the source is toggled, docked devices will see their charging sources turn off and then back on again. It’s not a major issue, but one worth being aware of.
Compared to iHome’s dual-docking speaker, AJ7260D/37 exhibits similar but slightly less impressive audio performance. The two mostly sound alike, which is to say pretty good for alarm clocks. Philips’ speaker doesn’t get as loud as iHome’s, though, and its highs aren’t as strong. AJ7260D/37’s bass performance is a little better on the default setting, but iDL100 can be adjusted to match using granular EQ settings that Philips doesn’t offer. For casual listening in a bedroom, both are good choices, but Philips’ speaker falls a bit below iHome’s.
Although its audio performance isn’t quite as strong, AJ7260D/37 earns the same general recommendation as iDL100 for two main reasons. The first is its lower price, and the second is its novelty. Very few, if any, accessories support current-generation and legacy devices like this speaker does. For those who need such functionality, it’s a good choice. Philips has some work to do if it wants to make the speaker great, but for a bedside option, it’s quite acceptable.
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Compatible: All iPads, iPhones, iPods