JBL’s OnBeat speaker dock may lack AirPlay audio streaming like its more advanced sibling OnAir, but it still provides plenty of ways to enjoy your tunes. There’s an iPod dock that also comfortably accommodates iPhones and iPads, plus a 3.5mm input on the back that caters for other types of audio player.
JBL OnBeat – Design
OnBeat’s cleverest feature is its rotating dock arm, which allows you to view the screen in portrait or landscape orientation – perfect for checking out photos and videos without having to disconnect your device from the dock. The white styling of our sample works well with most Apple colour schemes, likewise the alternative moodier black version. It’s a unique, eye-catching design, sculpted with sweeping silver panels that make the shape of a heart and volume buttons on the right hand side – the rest is covered in speaker mesh. Build quality also meets the standards you’d expect for £150, with solid, robust bodywork.
JBL OnBeat – Features
Around the back is a panel of sockets, which includes a USB port that lets you hook it up to a PC and sync your device with iTunes, charging it up in the process. You also get a 3.5mm input for other portable media devices and a composite video output for watching videos from your device on a TV, but this low-quality connection makes the picture fairly ropey to be honest. On the inside, OnBeat boasts JBL’s full-range Phoenix transducers and 2 x 7.5W amplifiers, which aim to deliver a room-filling sound from a relatively small unit. In the box you get a miniscule remote with just ten blister buttons and a power adapter, but the video and iPod PC cables aren’t included.
JBL OnBeat – Performance
Playing a range of tunes from bass-heavy dance bangers to delicate jazz numbers, the JBL OnBeat reveals itself to be a talented little performer. Treble is sweet and clean, giving the sound an open character and it’s not found wanting in the midrange frequencies either. It also handles high volumes well and provides a loud, undistorted sound. Where it falls down is with bass output – yes there’s a definite bottom-end presence, which enough depth to pass muster, but not enough to really get the table shaking like the Pure Contour or the Conran Audio dock. Even so, it’s still perfectly enjoyable, and when added to the stylish design and clever touches OnBeat is well worth a place on your shopping list this summer.
JBL OnBeat: £150