One of the great things about the Apple mobile hardware "ecosystem" was that nearly all of the products shared those ubiquitous 30-pin cables. That meant near-universal compatibility with chargers and docks for the better part of a decade, even as the iPod morphed into the iPhone, and -- eventually -- the iPad. But that all changed in late 2012, when Apple began transitioning its new products to the Lightning port -- smaller, to be sure, but also incompatible with all of the old 30-pin accessories without a pricey adapter.
Lightning-enabled accessories are finally appearing on the market. The Philips DS1155 Docking Speaker is one of the first speaker docks to work with the iPhone 5, the new iPod Touch, and the iPod Nano 7th generation, without the need for an adapter.
Philips' has two step-up Lightning-equipped docking speaker models. The $129.99 "room-to-room" DS3205 offers better sound with significantly more bass and a battery power option. Then there's the $149.99 DS7580, which also gives better sound and more closely resembles a tabletop speaker. It has a built-in rechargeable battery for portable use.
Each of the speakers has its merits. I particularly liked the style of the nightstand-friendly DS1155, though I thought the JBL OnBeat Micro's sound and features set were both a bit better, for about $10 more.
Design and features
This isn't really a new speaker, for Philips has been selling 30-pin-connector versions (Fidelio DS1110) of the same unit since April 2011. What's new is the Lightning connector.
The unit, which comes in black or white, has a sleek circular shape and Philips describes the speaker as offering 360-degree omnidirectional sound. One of Philips' strengths is its industrial design, and the DS1155 is a slick-looking little speaker dock. There's a small circular patch of faux-wood finish on top, where the volume controls and clock set button are located (the clock on the dock syncs to match the clock on your device when you dock your device).
Just below the volume buttons, you'll find a button that controls the ring of LED lights on the bottom of the dock. You can set the light to shine a bit brighter, dim it, or turn it off entirely. The clock can also be dimmed -- it, too, has three settings -- but not totally turned off.
The ring of light at the base does create a cool halo effect that some people will like -- it's essentially a night-light -- but others who prefer to sleep in total darkness will want to shut it off.
Like the JBL OnBeat Micro, this Philips has a USB port on the back for charging other smartphones and tablets, including the iPad Mini and larger iPad. However, you can't play audio from those devices via the USB port the way you can on the JBL. That said, while you're charging one device via the DS1155's USB port, it won't interfere with the iPhone or iPod Touch you have docked, whereas with the JBL, you cannot play music from your docked device if the USB port is occupied.