So you’ve got a Zune and it’s loaded with your favorite music and videos, and you want a way to play your digital music player’s content over your home theater system. Can it be done? Of course.
Digital Lifestyle Outfitters, or DLO as they are more commonly known, has a product for that very purpose: the HomeDock for Zune. With the HomeDock, you can “Play your Zune’s music, photos, videos and more on your home stereo and TV.” You can also “navigate and select your Zune’s music, videos, photos, radio and community on your TV screen with the included, full-function remote control.”
Sounds good, right? Let’s see if it’s easy to set up and if it works as it should…
Included in the box are the typical DLO lagniappes, including a DLO sticker, 35 free MP3 downloads from eMusic, and 12 free issues of Rolling Stone.
Hardware in the box includes the HomeDock Module, a 6? long RCA cable, and adjustable Zune support stand, full-function Infrared remote control, an AC power adapter, and a user manual.
The HomeDock module measures approximately 5.75? wide x 3.75? deep x 0.75? thick; it is composed of textured black plastic on the top, and glossy black plastic on the bottom and sides. What you see here is the Zune dock on the left, and directly behind it the large adjustable screw that secures the stand. On the right, is a cradle for the infrared remote control.
The back of the HomeDock has ports for (from left to right): Video, Audio left and right, the power connector, and USB B.
There are five rubber grippy feet on the base of the HomeDock, so it will sit on top of a TV or AV shelf without scooting.
Here is the adjustable support stand, once it has been installed. Since at this time there is only one Zune model, the fact that the support is adjustable probably isn’t that big of a deal. However, since there are new Zune models appearing soon, including smaller flash-based versions, the adjustable support may eventually come in handy.
When the Zune is on the HomeDock, the clear DLO button on the front will light up blue from an internal blue LED, indicating that the HomeDock is powered and the Zune is charging. The remote control takes one CR2032 3V Lithium disk battery, which is replaceable but not rechargeable. The entire presentation is quite slick, and the items look nice when stored together.
Here’s a shot from the back…
So the idea of the DLO HomeDock for Zune is that when using it, “you can surf what’s on your Zune from the comfort of your couch,” watching video over your TV and listening to it over your home theater sound system.
These are the steps, copied directly from the manual, for hooking the HomeDock to the TV and stereo system:
1. Plug the included AC power adapter into the back of the HomeDock base, then into any available AC power outlet.
2. Plug the included A/V Cable into the back of the HomeDock base. Be sure to match the color on the A/V plugs (red, white and yellow) with the corresponding jack color or input type. If you have an S-Video connection available on your TV, use an S-Video cable (not included) for superior picture quality when viewing photos.
3. Plug the other end of the A/V Cable into the corresponding jacks on your home stereo receiver or television setup. NOTE: Yellow plug is for Video input, White plug is for Left Audio, and Red plug is for Right Audio.
4. Connect your Zune by carefully lowering it onto the Zune connector of the HomeDock so that it is resting against the Support Stand.
5. Using your HomeDock Remote Control, turn on the power to your HomeDock. Also turn on your home theater and select the correct input
connection on both your stereo and TV.
6. Hit play on your HomeDock Remote and enjoy your music experience at home. You are now ready to play your Picture Slideshows on your television as well.
The most important step is not mentioned there – and it should be! Make sure the TV Out option is set to “ON”, on the Zune. Otherwise, you will find yourself (like I did) wondering why in the hell you have everything properly hooked up, audio is playing perfectly, but there is nothing on the screen!
Luckily Jerry read the troubleshooting portion of the manual and figured it out. Learn from my mistake.
I used the small DVD / TV in the kitchen as my test device; it’s easy to do tests like this on it, because the input jacks are conveniently located on the front. I switched the AV to LINE, as that’s what it needed to be on this TV – on your TV, it may be a different input source. Using the remote control, I was able to control the Zune while navigating on the TV screen through the entire music, video and picture selection process.
The Zune’s entire on-screen navigation menu – complete with wallpaper – is replicated on the television, which I really liked, and it is all controlled with the remote control. The remote control’s range should be sufficient for most family rooms – I backed up 20 feet before I started to notice that it was no longer consistently reaching. In this manner, audio and visual content stored on the Zune can be shared with everyone, not just the person attached to a set of earphones.
A slide-show playing on the Zune will now play on the TV…
…as will any video content.
Album art is also displayed while music plays.
Is it bad that I found myself wishing the HomeDock could also record content while hooked up to my TV? Ah well, that is an entirely different type product which will be reviewed on another day.
The DLO HomeDock is a great way to integrate your Zune with your home theater, and the included remote control makes the experience easy to manage. If you have been looking for an easy way to get the content off of your Zune and onto a larger than life speaker system and video screen, then the DLO HomeDock is exactly what you need.
The Digital Lifestyle Outfitters (DLO) HomeDock for Zune is available directly from the manufacturer; there is also an available iPod HomeDock Deluxe version.
What I Like: Easy setup; on screen navigation; full Zune functions directly from the remote; charges the Zune when it’s docked
What Needs Improvement: Nothing, it’s pretty nifty!