For many years, Android lovers have suffered.
Apple’s iPhone and iPod had these wonderful speaker docks that allowed their owners to enjoy music without ear buds; plus many of those docks also included a remote that could be used to control the music from across the room. Finally Android users can breathe a sigh of relief, thanks to Digital Innovation’s new Speaker Dock for Android. I was lucky enough not just to receive one to review, but to also give feedback through its early development stage.
Is it as good as some of the better iPhone docks? Let’s find out.
The dock is about the size of some of the smaller iPhone docks — small enough to fit on your nightstand or on your kitchen counter. Its small size doesn’t mean small sound, however; the sound that this dock produces is very good. In fact, is as good as many of the iPhone/iPod docks I have reviewed. It is loud enough that you may want to lower your phone’s media volume setting before attaching it to the dock; failing to do so may result in waking half the house up if you are using it at night like I do sometimes!
Sound is only part of this dock though. The dock also tries to be like the iPhone docks on the market, and includes a remote. The remote only works if you install the application designed to work with the dock. To install the application, you search in the Android Marketplace for SONR Labs and install the latest beta. Once installed, you connect the phone via the MicroUSB and Headphone cables that come from the top of the dock. Once connected, the app launches and you select the app you would like to use for the audio source. Once the music is playing, you can pause the music as well as go to the next track and change the volume from the buttons on the dock or on the remote.
Throughout the beta period on the hardware and software, the application has done nothing but improve. What started out as a buggy beta has evolved into a solid application. It is still not without its problems though. Even though the application let’s you select the app that you want to use, not every app that produces audio is included. Initially, one of my favorite apps, iHeartRadio wasn’t supported but now it is. The app also lists applications that produce little to no sound or are usually not used as a media producing application. For example, I have an app called Ham Radio Tools that produces no audio, but is included in the app list. Also, Soundhound, which is usually used for tagging music, is included in the list. You don’t usually use Soundhound to listen to music like you would Google Music, Rdio, Pandora or Spotify. Those are two apps that I would not have included in the SONR Labs application list. So while it’s not perfect, the application is improving every iteration. So some of these issues should be gone in short order. One final complaint about the application is it has the version number in its name on the market. That means it will not automatically update, you need to manually download the new version each time. It would be nice if the application was just named SONR Labs or SONR Beta and then when 0.91 comes out, the app automatically updates.
While at work, I came across one more issue with the software. There is no way within the app itself to have it set the audio level of notifications and alerts while the dock is connected. I realized this when I took a short break like we all do during the day and I left my phone plugged in and received a phone call…and my dock exploded with noise. You can, of course, lower the ringer volume before you plug this into the dock but it would be nice if you could set the volume of ringers and notifications while it is all connected.
Even without the application, you can use the dock with any Android phone and even some non Android phones and MP3 players. Just connect the device to the 1/8 inch jack and use the phone or device to control the audio. This makes this dock useful as external speakers for more than just Android phones. It really shines when you use it with an Android device though.
While this is the first dock of its kind for any Android device, it leaves me feeling, well, wanting. There’s many things that this dock can do that docks for iPhone do. However, there are somethings it just can’t do. It is a good first outing, but I think that the best Android dock has yet to been released. For now, this is the best universal Android dock there is mostly because: It’s the only one.
The Digital Innovations Android Dock is available now direct from Digital Innovations.
What I Like: Sounds good and looks good.
What Needs Improvement: Included app needs some work.