CNET First Look
JBL's OnBeat Micro plays bigThe company's compact Lightning-equipped speaker dock for the iPhone 5 has a little kick to it.
-I'm David Carnoy, executive editor for CNET.com, and I'm here with the JBL OnBeat Micro. This is a Lightning-equipped speaker dock. It retails for around $100 and is actually pretty good. What I liked about it is that it's compact. It also sounds pretty good. It's designed to sit on a nightstand. It also has an audio input so you can sit it on your desk and use it as a speaker for your laptop or desktop PC. JBL also makes speakers that work with Lightning-equipped iPads; however, this one is only designed to work with the Lightning-equipped iPhone or iPod Touch. Another small extra worth mentioning is that there's a USB port on the back that allows you to charge other mobile devices including other smartphones or even other tablets including other iPads. I did connect an iPhone 4S and an iPad Mini, and you can stream audio through that USB connection. The only problem is that once you connect anything to that USB port, you can't play audio through your dock device, though it will still charge. Finally, this is a portable speaker. There is a hidden compartment on the bottom of the unit that allows you to add four AAA batteries that gives you about five hours of battery life on the go. Obviously, it would have been better if this was a rechargeable speaker, but that probably would have added another $25 or more to the cost of the unit. In terms of buttons on the unit, it's really very simple. There's a power button and a volume up and down button and that is it. One design element worth highlighting is that the connector itself, the Lightning connector, the post if you will, does have a little bit of play to it. So, it tilts back and forth. That allows you to connect your iPhone a little more easily, but it does have some play in it. So, if you do pick up the speaker dock, it may tilt forward and that can be a little bit disconcerting. It's also worth mentioning that you'll probably have to remove any cases from your iPhone unless they are ultra slim. Aside from those small drawbacks, I really did like the unit. It does play a lot louder than you think. It doesn't deliver great sound, but it's decent sound and it can fill a small room with audio. I'm David Carnoy and that's the JBL OnBeat Micro Lightning-equipped speaker dock. Thanks for watching.