You might know the Jabra brand name from the company’s comprehensive lineup of telephone headsets, but designing a tabletop speaker system is vastly different than building the tiny drivers in a headset. Jabra realized this and forged a partnership with Klipsch, one of the best speaker designers around.
The result of this collaboration is the cobranded Jabra S5010, a powered speaker dock that works with just about any music device, from an iPod to a mobile phone to a PC. The speakers are the most important factor in this equation, and Klipsch’s deliver plenty of bass and far better highs than Cambridge SoundWorks’s portable PlayDock Zen ($200). But for the money, we think Creative’s surprisingly good GigaWorks T20 speakers ($100) are a better sonic value.
The dock is equipped with a mini USB port that’s supposed to charge any device plugged into it, but it didn’t work with our Creative Zen Vision: M, and we couldn’t find mini USB cables that were compatible with our video iPod or BlackJack smartphone. We couldn’t play music from the BlackJack either because the phone has a nonstandard headphone jack and we didn’t have an adapter.
Removable neoprene panels in the cradle and on the back of the dock hide a bay containing a 2.5mm audio jack and the aforementioned mini USB port. The panel has notches on three sides and a hole in the middle to allow cables to emerge, and the bay is large enough that you can coil unused cable inside it. Jabra provides one cable with a 2.5mm stereo plug on one end and a 3.5mm stereo plug on the other, one cable with stereo 3.5mm plugs on both ends, and a cable with mini USB plugs on both ends. But when you plug in the USB cable, its L-shaped head blocks the 2.5mm stereo jack. Doh! Fortunately, there’s a 3.5mm stereo jack on the back of the cabinet.
The S5010 doesn’t sound bad enough for us to slam it, but it doesn’t sound good enough to warrant a recommendation, especially with the connector annoyances.