Altec Lansing T612 Review

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$199

Pros: Volume and Tone indicator lights; No GSM buzz when calls come in; Pauses music for calls and text messages

Cons: No speakerphone function; Sound breaks up near maximum volume; No battery power option

Verdict: The T612 is the first--and only--iPhone-specific speaker dock that blocks the buzz without having to disable the phone.

No more b-b-b-b-buzzzzz. Altec Lansing fortified its iPod speaker line with the company's first "works with iPhone" model, the T612. It eliminates buzz when a docked iPhone receives a call, thanks to some internal shielding against GSM interference, so you don't have to disable the Wi-Fi and cellular features of your iPhone, potentially missing calls.

A Svelte, Modern Design

The T612 has a slim profile (the speaker is only 2.5 inches thick without the dock), and the integrated dock works with iPhones or iPods with dock connectors. The black-and-silver grille gives it a contemporary look. Five buttons adorning the top control power, volume, bass, and treble, and blue LEDs behind the speaker grille indicate volume and tone levels.
On the back there's a 3.5mm line-in jack for iPod alternatives, as well as a power jack and sockets for an optional wall-mount bracket. That means no video output or in-dock syncing with your computer, but we can live without those features. You also get a 10-inch audio cable, an AC power adapter (sorry, no battery power), and an infrared remote that gave us 40 feet of reliable range.

Good Audio Quality (At Moderate Volume)

We seated our iPhone on the universal dock (with the included iPhone dock adapter) and listened to Pink Floyd's "Mother" from The Wall. The acoustic guitars sounded sparkly, especially when we turned the treble up, and Roger Waters' double-tracked voice came through loud and clear. Toward the end of the track we rocked out to the full band, and the bass was full but a bit muddy. Sadly, for our ears, cranking up the volume made the sound break up noticeably as we approached maximum output.

Missed Connections

Then Mom called, and Floyd silenced automatically, replaced by our ringtone (Ozzy Osbourne's "Mama I'm Coming Home"). We pressed the Answer Call button and were severely disappointed that Mom's voice came only from the iPhone itself, not the T612, which lacks a built-in microphone. Altec Lansing cites Apple for not allowing the iPhone's telephony to be output via the dock connector like the iPod's audio.

Altec Lansing T612 Verdict

The T612 is a good-looking speaker with solid sound quality, so long as you don't push the volume too hard. We're thrilled to have a speaker that works with the iPhone besides the excellent-but-pricey Bose SoundDock Portable (which requires you to turn off the phone to avoid the buzz), and we're extra glad we don't have to put the iPhone in Airplane Mode and miss our important calls.
But we still think it's unforgivable that a device marketed as an iPhone speaker doesn't work as a speakerphone, seriously limiting its usefulness, even though it's Apple's fault. If that's not a hang-up for you, by all means, go with the T612. Otherwise, we'd suggest writing Apple and waiting for a no-compromise solution.
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Laptop Mag & Tom's Hardware
Accessories Type Speaker Docks
Size 14 x 8.2 x 5.4 inches
Weight 5 pounds
Company Website www.alteclansing.com