Belkin Thunderstorm Makes Your iPad a Handheld Theater for $199

There’s a sliver-thin line between speaker dock and portable theater, and Belkin thinks it’s found it. The portable accessory purveyor debuts the Belkin Thunderstorm Handheld Theater at CES 2013 today. For $199, the device not only packs major audio power, it also includes a magnetically-attached stand that serves as a cover and props up the sound system in several viewing modes.

To help this “handheld theater” live up to its name, Belkin’s partnered with a new player in digital and physical sound design, the Oregon-based firm Audifi, which uses the motto “small is the new loud” on its website.

The Thunderstorm works with an app of the same name that includes sound profiles to boost the audio for watching movies, listening to music, and playing video games. Hardware sound enhancements include front-facing stereo speakers, landscape-orientation for a maximum span of sound, and ported speakers for deeper bass.

The Thunderstorm will be available in two flavors, one with a connector for 30-pin iPads and another with a slot for the Lightning port. Both versions will cost $199, include the magnetic cover that doubles as a foldable multi-position stand, and support pass-through access for all the iPads’ functions including the back camera, charging, and on-device volume control.

Although the 30-pin Thunderstorm will be available at,, and in January, the Lightning port system won’t hit stands until later this spring. Look for our ears-and-hands-on during CES 2013 later this week to determine if Belkin’s new dock brings the thunder and noise.