By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
NEW YORK – Docking isn’t dead, though many manufacturers are dropping iOS-docking speakers to focus exclusively on Bluetooth speakers.
Other suppliers, however, still see value in speakers that physically dock only with Apple’s mobile devices, but many of these companies are taking new approaches to docking speakers to appeal to the widest range of consumers possible.
Some suppliers, for example, are changing the definition of docking to include Made for iPod/iPhone/ iPad (MFI) USB ports, guaranteeing the compatibility of their docking speakers with older 30-pin iOS devices and newer eight-pin iOS devices.
Suppliers are also embedding physical docks and Bluetooth in the same speaker to connect to the widest range of mobile devices possible, acknowledging the dominance of the Android OS in smartphones.
One such supplier is Soundfreaq. “We think it’s important to accommodate the shift in the industry with the Lightning dock but at the same time don’t want it to be limited to i-devices or lose the convenience of wireless streaming,” a spokesperson said of the inclusion of Bluetooth in two new docking speakers with Lightning connector.
Here are some of the latest developments in docking speakers:
AudioXperts plans shipments of a pair of docking speakers in about two months, in part to redesign them to remove 30-pin docks. Like before, however, they will come with Bluetooth and a Made for iPod/ iPhone/iPad USB port, the company said.
The two EVA (EnVironmental Audio) Music Systems also feature a digital optical connection to add an optional Apple Airport Express. The mono speakers are the $499-suggested SCR400 with FM and the $399 SPS300 without FM. They can be turned into stereo systems with the addition of a $349 accessory speaker with alarm clock and amplifier or a $299 accessory speaker without alarm clock.
iHome has a trio of Apple-certified docking speakers that feature eight-pin Lightning connectors and Apple-certified USB ports. They are the $99-suggested iDL45 and $79 iPL10, which are shipping, and the $149 iDL100, which ships in early July.
The iDL45 alarm clock speaker features an FM tuner, Lightning connector and USB port. The $79 iPL10 is a smaller version of the iDL45. The $149 iDL100 dock with stereo FM clock radio features a USB port and two Lightning docks.
iLuv Creative Technology plans September availability of the $99 Time Shaker docking alarm clock with a Lightning connector. It will become the company’s second home audio system with a Lightning connector. The first, the Aud5, is a $129 AC-only docking speaker that shipped in May with Lightning.
Onkyo plans August availability of its first CD-equipped mini system with an embedded Lightning connector. It also features Apple-certified USB.
The CS-255 CD Hi-Fi Mini System will be available in August at a suggested $299.
The USB also enables users to play back MP3/AAC files from other smartphones, tablets and flash-memory drives.
Soundfreaq’s first two docking speakers with Lightning connector also feature embedded Bluetooth and an Applecertified USB port. They are the Sound Step Lightning, available in Target stores at $129, and the AC/DC Sound Step Recharge Lightning, due in August for $149.
The models join the original Sound Step and Sound Step Recharge, both of which feature embedded 30-pin connector and Bluetooth but did not have an Apple-certified USB.
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