As with the iPod and iPhone before it, the megapopularity of the Apple iPad has spawned a thriving accessories industry. Beyond a panoply of cases and keyboards, there's also a burgeoning market for iPad speaker docks--often upscaled version of iPhone docks, supersized to accommodate Apple's market-leading 10-inch tablet.
The model we're looking at here is the $150 JBL OnBeat (available in white or black). Its docking port is roomy enough to allow you to dock your iPad--in addition to any other iOS portable device, including the iPhone and iPod Touch. But the OnBeat's ability to rotate from vertical (portrait mode) to horizontal (landscape mode) only works with the handheld devices. If you dock the iPad, it needs to stay vertical--a bummer if you want to watch video.
While this product isn't nearly as good as JBL's much larger OnBeat Xtreme , which costs a pricey $500--and allows full rotation of docked iPads--the OnBeat will appeal to folks who want to have an iPad speaker/stand on nightstand to listen to music--or watch video, albeit in a compromised fashion.
Like its bigger brother, the OnBeat Xtreme, the original OnBeat has one of those designs that you're either going to love or find a little off-putting. The front looks a little like the top of a woman's formal dress and the chrome around the dock makes a heart shape. While the OnBeat seems fairly well built-in, it does feel pretty light and can be picked up easily enough (some will view that as a good thing). It's just not a luxurious, high-end product like the OnBeat Xtreme is, but it does cost much less, so you can't expect it to be.
As noted, the OnBeat features a 30-pin Apple dock. The dock rotates so you can put your iPhone, iPod, or iPod Touch in portrait or landscape mode for movie watching, but it needs to stay locked in a vertical position when the iPad is docked--a big problem if you want to watch video. JBL throws in adapters for iPads and iPhones that make your specific device sit more securely in the dock, and--as usual--the devices recharge while docked.
It's worth noting that the dock works with both the original iPad and the iPad 2, but because of the way Apple placed the port on the bottom of the iPad 2, it always feels a little iffy when you're sliding it into the dock (it often takes a couple of tries to get everything to line up properly). It's not a huge problem, but it is a small issue.
It should also go without saying that the speaker looks very different when your iPad's docked in it and when it isn't. I preferred the look when the iPad was docked; the iPhone or iPod Touch looked comparatively out of place.
This doesn't have Bluetooth for wireless streaming like the OnBeat Xtreme--nor does it have AirPlay, like the JBL OnAir Wireless--but it does have a few extras in the features department.