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Docks that rock

Android device owners will be glad to own a music dock like Philips AS111 that is built well, looks neat & can be set up in simple steps

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|| Rs 5,999
It is rather difficult to find an docking station in the midst of dozens meant for and iPods, primarily because of the non-standardisation of port locations on Android devices manufactured by different brands. Philips Fidelio speaker dock for Android (AS111) functions as a dock, a clock, and a Bluetooth speaker for Android phones. Philips has designed this dock to replace your bedside alarm clock, adding a 360-degree speaker design.

Given Android has overtaken the iPhone in smartphone market share, it seems logical for manufacturers like Philips to turn their attention to Android audio docks.

Philips AS111Users will get omni-directional sound output from AS111, courtesy its design which is like an oversized hockey puck. On the top is a cloth mesh over the circular speaker grill, at the rear of the unit is the power jack for the and on the front is an for the clock. The digital clock is quite readable in dim to bright lights and has dimming options too (example, a nightlight type of feature that puts an orangey glow around the bottom of the dock).

The USB port on AS111 can slide, swivel, and tilt to adapt to most Android phones with a micro-USB connector. Once user has installed the Fidelio and Songbird apps to their Android phone, pairing and connecting to the dock with a breeze. Once paired, streaming music from phone using Bluetooth is simple and with the Songbird one can play any song from phone on the Fidelio’s speakers. The Songbird app is a media player app that integrates with Fidelio.

The sound quality is what you would expect from a high-end clock radio unit. In other words, it is not audiophile-quality but still impresses, since it’s coming from a body that is compact and inexpensive. As described earlier, it is intended for bedside use in small rooms and, frankly, here it more than excels. Sounds are clear and can go pretty loud without becoming too distorted.

Bottom line: In the absence of too many choices, Android device owners will be glad to own a music dock like Philips AS111 that is built well, looks neat and can be set up in simple steps

|| Rs 24,990
JBL OnBeat Xtreme is a Bluetooth-enabled, dock-cradle speaker system for the iPad, iPhone, iPods. The design may or may not appeal to everyone — at 9-inch high, 17.5-inch in width and 9.6-inch thick, OnBeat Xtreme is one of the larger iPad speaker docks around that has an intermeshed or ‘X’ shape.

Two high-performance tweeters produce distinct highs and JBL's Hercules woofers lend a brawny midrange and bass to the music notes. All four speakers (on dock) are regulated by a computer-optimised digital signal processor intended to deliver accurate and natural sound reproduction. Music is belted out with 120 watts of power, which should give room-filling sound and then some. Whether playing from a docked device or via Bluetooth, bass presence is surprisingly good and midrange and treble frequencies reproduced are crisp and clear.

If you have plugged in your iPhone for music, then OnBeat Xtreme has a built-in microphone that allows user to carry on conversations through the system while the phone stays docked. Users can stream music from a device as OnBeat Xtreme uses Bluetooth Advanced Audio Distribution Profile for less distortion. You shouldn’t have any problem in streaming music easily from across a 30-foot room, provided nothing substantial is blocking the line of sight. It also charges your Apple devices while docked.

The OnBeat Xtreme has a swivelling arm to allow between vertical or horizontal orientation for the screen. You control the docking station via buttons on its side (backlit controls) or through the included tiny remote. On the back of it, there’s an aux port, with a composite video out jack if you want to connect to a TV (cable not included).

Bottomline: OnBeat Xtreme is user-friendly. It plays good, if not spectacular, music.

|| Rs 7,999
JBL’s On Stage IV is a portable iPod and iPhone dock that offers above-average sound as against other docks in the same price range. The marketplace of iPod & iPhone docks is cluttered, yet JBL manages to set self apart with design which may not be the most aesthetic but definitely different.

JBL On Stage IVOn Stage IV uses four Odyssey transducers that can produce clear sounds in an average-sized room. But the output distorts at higher volumes. While this is not ideal, it is not surprising as this is a portable unit. Unlike conventional stereo systems, the placement of speakers or rather the design of the On Stage IV is such that it sends sounds at different angles in all directions. Just like many other portable docks, JBL On Stage IV too lacks subwoofers to cover deeper bass.

What stands out is that the system has been designed such that the speaker is immune from cellular phone interference during playback.

It also includes an AC adapter or can be powered by six AA batteries that should provide more than 12 hours of play. There’s also a remote control with full iPod, iPhone navigation, a wall adapter, and one dock adapter. On the back, there’s a port for DC charger, a mini-USB port and a 3.5-mm audio-in port (no audio cables included). JBL has included LED lights on the dock that make it easier to read power and battery status.

Bottom line: Though the price is on the higher side, the overall experience is richer than the average iPod or iPhone docks.

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