When Julie, The Gadgeteer, asked if I would like to review Digital Innovations’ speaker dock for Android smartphones, I jumped on the chance. I had just been asking myself if there was a speaker dock out there for Android Smartphones. I know there are plenty of them available for iPhones and iPods, but I had never seen any for the Android phones.
When I received the box for the Universal Speaker Dock for Android, I was thinking “WOW, this thing is huge!” After opening the box however, I realized most of it was just the packaging and that the speaker dock was actually fairly small in size. It measures 12.5″ x 4.2″ x 5″, which is conveniently compact.
What’s included in the package:
- Speaker Dock for Android
- Remote control
- Universal AC adapter
- Quick Start Guide
Here is a back side view of the speaker dock. This is where the the AC adapter plugs in as well.
This dock looks nice sitting on a bedroom nightstand or sitting in any other location you’d choose to enjoy it. I can see it being a fixture on your kitchen counter to enjoy music while you cook, or in your living room near where you sit and relax. I chose the nightstand because I have been using it as my alarm clock. I can wake up to music and it has been working perfectly for that purpose.
To be able to utilize the dock, you have to download a free app from the marketplace called SONR Labs. This app has to be started before you hook your phone into the dock to be able to utilize the buttons on the dock, as well as for use of the remote control (which is included). This process was fairly effortless.
Hooking up your Android phone to the unit is quite easy also. There are two connections to hook up; the microUSB connection and the 3.5mm audio connector. When I first tried to hook up my phone, I was a little concerned with the length of the cables. I started reading the instructions again and noticed that the cables actually pull out of the unit to a length of around 8″, which made hooking up my phone a lot easier. I did find that pushing the 3.5mm audio connector cords back INTO the unit was quite troublesome. The diameter of the wire was a bit cumbersome. With a little determination however, they can be pushed back inside.
After hooking up the phone, you can either set the phone in the dock in landscape or portrait mode. I have been using landscape mode and setting my phone in the Desk Cradle so I can have a clock displayed on my phone. I turned the music player on for the phone, selected a song and started playing around with the controls on the dock. There are 6 buttons on top of the dock: Volume Up & Down, Play/Pause and Skip/Back, and a power button.
I have a Samsung Fascinate, and the only buttons I could get to work on the dock were the Volume Up & Down and the Power button. I am not sure if it is a compatibility issue or whether the app is still in beta, but the other buttons would not work. Needless to say, I just had the music player set to random, and I was ok with at least being able to change the volume with the unit. The included remote control is a nice feature because it has the same buttons. The buttons have some feedback to them when they are depressed. Of course I had the same problem with the remote (limited functionality of the buttons). I could only get the Volume buttons to work. I also tested a Droid X smartphone on the dock; after downloading the app and setting it up, all the buttons seemed to work, although I did have to depress the Skip/Back buttons at least two to three times to get them to work. The Play/Pause button worked great on this phone, so I am going to assume that the reason my phone did not work as well is because the app is still in beta.
The sound quality of this speaker dock is very impressive. The unit boasts “6 watts of crisp, clear treble, delivered by two high-quality speakers” and “10 watts of punchy, booming bass delivered by a sub-woofer”. I will admit that this unit does a great job at recreating the vocals of the songs that are loaded on your phone. You can even stream music to your phone and play it back through the speaker dock, using Pandora or whatever app you use to stream music.
I was able to turn the volume up close to the highest level that the smartphone offers and could feel a little bit of the bass being pumped out by some of my hip-hop songs that I played. I am no aficionado when it comes to music or how speakers are supposed to deliver high quality sounds, but I am fairly certain that most consumers would be happy using this speaker dock. I would definitely recommend this speaker dock for anyone looking for a nice way to play music on their Android smartphones.
Tried an app called WinAMP, which is available from the Google Play Store. By using this app with the SONR app I was able to use all the functions of the included remote, the buttons would all work without having to depress them more than once. I was able to shuffle songs, play and pause each song, fast forward through the songs and even go back to the beginning of each song that was playing. The only time I was not able to do any of this was when I would minimize the WinAMP app so it was not being displayed on my phone screen and running in the background. Doing this the buttons would not work, so the app has to be showing on your phone screen. This is nice, since that way you can see your album covers while the songs are playing.