While Belkin has long been at the forefront of Apple accessories, offering everything from keyboard cases to baby monitors, it somehow left the audio arena unexplored. That ends today with the introduction of the Belkin Thunderstorm Handheld Home Theater. Behind that mouthful of a product name is essentially a portable speaker dock for the iPad housed inside a protective case, which seems a lot more reasonable than Bang & Olufsen's pricey speaker "wedge." The Thunderstorm's front-facing speaker system boasts full-range drivers and integrated air channels for "immersive sound" and "deeper bass." All the internals are powered by Audifi, a mobile audio engineering outfit that Belkin specifically hired for the project. As for the cover, Belkin took a cue from Apple's own magnetic offering, but went a step further with the addition of multifold creases for different viewing angles.
We spent a few days with the Thunderstorm and so far we're impressed with the volume and depth from such slim speakers. Though we didn't have a chance to test it, Belkin is also offering a free iOS app to accompany the product -- it essentially lets you fine-tune the audio with presets for music, movies and games. However the Thunderstorm is not without a few annoyances: the case adds an unsettling amount of bulk to the iPad and it's currently only available with the now-ancient 30-pin connector (we're told a Lightning-equipped version is due in Q2 2013). If you're happy with the ole universal dock though, you can pick this up in the coming weeks from Belkin's online store, Amazon.com or the Apple Store for $200 a pop.