JBL On Time Micro review: JBL On Time Micro

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JBL On Time Micro (black)

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2.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good The JBL On Time Micro features a sleek and stylish design with a compact footprint, AM/FM radio, plentiful alarm options, and an integrated iPod dock. It includes an auxiliary line input and a remote control.

The Bad The JBL On Time Micro is overpriced and sounds hollow when played at top volume. The remote is unnecessarily complicated.

The Bottom Line The JBL On Time Micro offers pretty much everything you'd want from a bedside iPod speaker dock, such as an AM/FM radio, multiple alarms, good audio, and a remote control. We just wish it did all that for about a third of the price.

5.5 Overall
  • Design 6.0
  • Features 4.0
  • Performance 6.0

Peruse any electronics store, whether virtual or brick-and-mortar, and you'll be overwhelmed by the breadth of choices offered in the iPod speaker category. As such, it is of the utmost importance that manufacturers of such goods make their products not just stand but jump out from the crowd. Taking an otherwise fairly standard iPod-ready AM/FM radio alarm clock and slapping a $250 price tag on it is surely one way of doing this; we're just not sure it's the right way. This is what JBL has done with the latest addition to its On Time speaker dock, the Micro. The sleek and compact unit sounds good and offers a nice array of features, but the remote is overly complex; even if not for that minor annoyance, JBL would still need to lop a good $100 off the MSRP for us to consider it.

The JBL On Time Micro may be the smallest in the series but it's not the most compact docking speaker we've come across. The base of the unit is 7.7 inches in diameter and the speaker dome stands nearly 5 inches tall. Though it's not supersmall, the Micro should fit comfortably on your average nightstand. The bulbous, brushed-silver speaker grille and faintly eery glow emanating from the LCD and backlit buttons give the unit the vaguely extraterrestrial look that we see repeated throughout the On Time line. We dig the sci-fi appeal, but, of course, style is all in the eye of the beholder.

The front of the JBL On Time Micro appears to have a section sliced off at an angle and this is where you'll find the iPod dock, a 2.2-inch monochrome display, and a variety of controls. The dock will accept any modern iPod or iPhone with a 30-pin connection, and JBL includes a single snap-in adapter with two rubber-backing inserts to help the player fit securely. Volume buttons flank the dock, and the screen separates the remainder of the keys, which let you power the unit on, set the alarms and radio presets, switch audio modes, tune the radio, and navigate the iPod's menus. A modest 1.3-inch snooze bar resides below the LCD.

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