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JBL OnBeat Xtreme review: JBL OnBeat Xtreme

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MSRP: $499.95

The Good The JBL OnBeat Xtreme offers excellent performance for an iPhone/iPad speaker dock, with detailed sound and good, tight bass that can fill a fairly large room. It also has built-in Bluetooth for wireless streaming, speakerphone capabilities, a video output, an RF remote (with 30-foot range), and a pass-through USB connection for computers that allows you to sync a docked iPod/iPhone/iPad with iTunes on your computer.

The Bad At $500, it costs as much as an iPad. The eye-catching design may not appeal to some people.

The Bottom Line While it's on the expensive side, JBL's OnBeat Xtreme is one of the best-sounding iPhone/iPad docks we've heard--and it has built-in Bluetooth and speakerphone capabilities.

Visit for details.

8.0 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 9
  • Performance 8

JBL's OnBeat Xtreme is pretty easy to sum up: this is a really good-sounding iPhone/iPad speaker dock that also boasts an impressive feature set, which includes Bluetooth wireless streaming and speakerphone capabilities. The truth is there isn't too much else you could ask for in this type of speaker system, though the OnBeat Xtreme's distinct and eye-catching design may not to appeal to everyone. The only real stumbling block is the $500 price tag.

The OnBeat Xtreme is basically a supersize version of the earlier JBL OnBeat iPod/iPhone speaker dock. It has one of those designs that you're either going to love or find a little off-putting. The truth is it looks a little like the top of a woman's formal dress or two sashes slung over one another. Regardless of how it strikes you, we can say that it seems very well-built. It weighs in at a solid 8.9 pounds and the buttons, speaker grilles, chrome accents, and nicely designed RF remote point to this being a luxury product. In that sense, it shares some similarities with Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin products, though obviously not the shape.

The JBL OnBeat Xtreme, seen from the front, without an iPad or iPhone docked.

As noted, the OnBeat Xtreme features an iPad dock--and that dock rotates so you can put your iPad in portrait or landscape mode for movie watching. Your iPhone and iPod will slip into the dock as well (yes, it charges iPads, iPhones, and various iPods), and JBL throws in an adapter for iPhones that makes your device sit more securely in the dock. The speaker looks very different with an iPad docked in it. I think it looks better with an iPad onboard, but since the Xtreme has Bluetooth you don't have to dock your iPad to run sound through the speaker.

Unlike most speaker docks, the JBL OnBeat Xtreme can hold an iPad (in landscape or portrait orientation).

I can't say I loved the look of the Xtreme, but I didn't hate it either. It's one of those speakers that needs to be placed in a spot where it can mesh well with your décor. Again, for some people its design will work well; for others it won't.

If you're looking for a speaker that offers compatibility with Apple's AirPlay wireless streaming feature, this isn't it. But it's got just about everything else you'd want in a speaker dock system, most notably Bluetooth and speakerphone capabilities. This would make for a nice "executive" system in a home office or den and you could also stick it underneath a TV (on a shelf) and make into a TV speaker using the line input. There's also a composite video output that allows you to run video from your docked iPad, iPhone, or iPod to your TV using an optional cable. Alas, that video connection is composite, which means the video quality will not look terribly good--think VCR quality at best.

The rear panel includes auxiliary in, video out, and USB (for syncing via iTunes).

It's also worth mentioning that there's a USB port around back so you can sync a docked iPod/iPhone/iPad with iTunes on your computer (yes, your computer does have to be nearby for the included USB cable to reach it).

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