As absurd as it might seem to dock a 9.7-inch tablet atop what amounts to a glorified boom box, let's be real: the iPad's
meek speakers are easily outclassed by its ability to swallow gigabytes worth of music and high-quality video content. Sure enough, iPad-compatible docks are quickly becoming a thing
now, and Philips is jumping head-first into the market with its Fidelio DS8550. Oh, but there's more than meets the eye here -- it's not just a speaker with a giant slot in front for a 30-pin connection, you see. You can either connect the iPad to let it charge and get a direct audio connection or roam with it and let it talk back to the dock over stereo Bluetooth, which was demoed to us as an awesome option for gaming -- as long as the Fidelio is within a few yards of you, games really become a more immersive experience when you've got thick, booming bass and virtually limitless volume nearby, and we found that you really don't notice that the sound is coming from "somewhere else."
The DS8550 also packs a handle on back and an internal battery, allegedly good for up to five hours of use off the grid so you'll be able to kick it old-school with the Fidelio slung over your shoulder in the subway station. The unit makes use of a unique spring-loaded pivot on its 30-pin connector, which Philips says allows you to connect any iPod, iPhone, or iPad without needing the typical adapters -- the device just sort of rests on the connector and the surrounding concave section of the speaker mesh. Check out a few more shots in the gallery!
Philips Fidelio DS8550 iPad speaker dock hands-on