Philips Room to Room Docking Speaker (DS3205) review: iPhone 5 speaker's biggest strength is its sound

The design of the Lightning connector seems decent enough. The docking post tilts, but it's spring-loaded, so your device is automatically pushed back against a rubber pad that's embedded in the speaker. Since the Lightning connector is smaller than the 30-pin connector and seems less durable, some people may find it more finicky to deal with; it's easier for your device to come off the Lightning post. As with most of these Lightning-based docks, you'll likely have to remove all but the thinnest cases in order to dock your device.

There is an auxiliary input but no USB port. Sarah Tew/CNET

Since this does have an audio input for connecting other audio devices, you can use it as a speaker for your PC. The only problem is that if you dock your iPhone or iPod for charging (sorry, it doesn't accommodate the iPad Mini), you can't play music through the auxiliary port.

The 30-pin Fidelio DS3000 features a USB input for pass-through syncing with your PC (it doesn't charge other devices, however). This model doesn't have USB connectivity of any kind, so you can't charge a secondary device.

The battery bay is in the base of the unit and takes four AA batteries for portable use. Sarah Tew/CNET

Performance
Probably the DS3205's biggest strength is its sound. It plays louder and offers richer sound than Philips' smaller DS1155. It doesn't sound fantastic, but most people will be impressed by what it can output for its size and its ability to fill a small room with sound. Like all these compact speakers, because the drivers are so close together, you'll get little in the way of stereo separation unless you're sitting or standing a few feet away. But at least the DS3205 sounds comparatively clear and has some punch to its bass.

Side view of the docking speaker. Sarah Tew/CNET

Conclusion
As I said in the intro, I liked the DS3205 and thought it sounded good for its size. What hurts it a bit is the lack of a USB port -- for either charging a second device or pass-through PC syncing -- and that it's not capable of playing audio through its auxiliary port when you have a device docked. (You should be able to use the unit as a speaker for your PC while charging your iPhone or iPod.)

From a value perspective, my impressions are influenced by the fact that at the time of this writing, the earlier Fidelio DS3000 is selling for less than $70 online. The DS3205 costs $129.99 and is very similar except for leaving off the USB port and adding the Lightning connector. Yes, I know it costs Philips more to implement the Lightning connector (I don't have time to get into Apple's licensing fees), but you could buy the $25 30-pin to Lightning adapter and get away for less by getting the older Fidelio DS3000.

Over time, I suspect, the DS3205 will come down in price. When it does, I'd consider raising its score. For now, I can recommend it -- but with reservations.

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Where to Buy See all prices

Philips DS3205 - speaker dock - with Apple cradle - for portable use

Part Number: DS3205/37 Released: Feb 1, 2013
Low Price: $59.95 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Feb 1, 2013
  • Color black
  • Amplification Type active
  • Connectivity Technology wired