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

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MSRP: $89.99

The Good The Philips Room to Room Docking Speaker (DS3205) is a compact, stylish speaker dock for Lightning-based iPhones and iPods. It delivers good sound for its small size and has a battery-powered option.

The Bad You'll have to remove everything but the slimmest cases in order to dock your device; no USB port for charging other devices; can't play sound through auxiliary input when you have an iPhone or iPod docked.

The Bottom Line While it does have a couple of shortcomings, the Philips Room to Room Docking Speaker (DS3205) is an attractive little iPhone 5 speaker dock that sounds good for its size.

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6.5 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 6
  • Sound 7
  • Value 6

Now that Apple has transitioned its new iPhone, iPods, and iPads to the smaller Lightning port that's incompatible with all of the old 30-pin accessories without a pricey adapter, Lightning-enabled accessories are finally appearing on the market.

As of early 2013, Philips has three different Lightning speaker docks to choose from, with the $130 "room-to-room" DS3205 (reviewed here) sitting between the more compact $100 DS1155 and the $150 DS7580, which more closely resembles a tabletop speaker. Both the DS3205 reviewed here and the DS7580 can run on battery power for mobile use. However, the latter model has a built-in rechargeable battery.

I liked the DS3205. While its design isn't quite as sleek as that of the nightstand-friendly DS1155, it sounds better, offering more bass, detail, and overall volume. My only issues with it are that it's missing the USB port found on its older 30-pin counterpart, the Fidelio DS3000, and you can't play sound through the auxiliary port if you have a device sitting in the dock.

The DS3205 delivers more bass and detail than its little brother, the DS1155. Sarah Tew/CNET

Design and features
As I hinted, this isn't really a new speaker, for Philips has been selling a 30-pin-connector version (the Fidelio DS3000) of the same unit since 2011. What's new is the Lightning connector.

The unit has an attractive design -- it sort of looks like an egg split in half, tilted at an angle with the yolk eaten out of the center. There's a power button on top and there are volume controls on the front of the speaker underneath the dock. Alas, no remote is included.

The speaker from behind. Sarah Tew/CNET

The unit has a couple of notable extra features. Along with the usual AC adapter option, you can run the unit off a set of four AA batteries, which power the speaker for up to 8 hours (that's pretty good).

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

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