Philips DS1155 Docking Speaker review: An iPhone 5 speaker dock with a sleek design

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The Good The Philips DS1155 Docking Speaker is a compact speaker dock for Lightning-based iPhones and iPods. It delivers good sound for its small size, it has a USB port for charging other mobile devices (and playing audio from them), and its base lights up, creating a cool halo effect.

The Bad You'll have to remove everything but the slimmest cases in order to dock your device; no auxiliary input.

The Bottom Line While the JBL OnBeat Micro is a bit better in terms of sound and feature set, the Philips DS115 is the better-looking iPhone 5 speaker dock.

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7.2 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 7
  • Sound 7
  • Value 7

Review Sections

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.

The DS1155 features a built-in clock and lighted base. Sarah Tew/CNET

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.

Volume and lighting control are on the top of the unit. Sarah Tew/CNET

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.

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