When the car dock first made a cameo appearance in the “Nexus One: The Story – Episode 1: Concept & Design” video I knew I needed one. And when Google announced it was available for sale I was one of the first to place my order. Does it live up to the $55 price tag?
The Nexus One Car Dock comes in a gorgeous hard box very similar to the one the Nexus One comes in. Inside are the car dock, 12v cable, mounting disc, alcohol wipe, instructions and warranty information.
My first thought after playing with it on the kitchen counter for a few minutes was “Over engineered”. The thing swivels every which way. I was sure it wouldn’t have a firm grip on the phone or the windshield. I thought I had wasted my money. Boy, was I wrong.
I installed the car dock following the instructions (wiping the windshield and suction cup with the alcohol wipe, etc). It took a few times to figure out a good spot so that it was in arms reach but not in my way. There is a locking mechanism on the base that you twist and it is on until you untwist it. I haven’t had it fall off since that first day. We will see how it does after a few weeks in the Texas summer (which weakens all but the best suction cup car devices) but I think it has a good shot at surviving.
Power is supplied by using a 12v cigarette lighter adapter. The actual adapter part again feels real solid and heavy when compared to your average $5 adapter. The cable is the perfect length and part of it is coiled so it isn’t laying at your passengers feet all the time. I did not test out the mounting disc (which adheres to your dash so you can mount the card dock to the disc if having it attached to your windshield is illegal or not possible) but it feels of higher quality than others I have seen.
To snap the phone in you have to use a little bit of force. I was hesitant at first but the clasp doesn’t scratch the phone and gives a good loud click when your phone is secure. In less than a second your screen turns on and the Car Home app is launched giving you large icons to access to View Map, Navigation, Voice Search, Contacts, Search and Home. After playing with the orientation a bit I found I prefered the horizontal (sideways) positioning even though many apps and the regular home screen do not orient sideways (though the latest CyanogenMod ROM allows the home screen to rotate). The car dock does allow you to rotate the device easily without being so loose that it moves on its own.
The phone connects to the speaker in the dock via bluetooth. You can assign the speaker to act as a speaker phone and/or play music and media. This allows you to play music out the headphone jack and into your car stereo and still have the dock as your speakerphone. Very cool. The speaker in the unit is pretty good, a lot better than the speaker in the phone itself, but not so good that I’m going to stop using my car stereo. The dock also has up and down volume buttons which seem to work for some media but not others. It’s a little odd and people have complained about the buttons not working at all, so there is obviously something going on there that needs to be looked at.
The dock also has cutouts for both of the microphones so the noise cancellation works. Additionally there is a cut out for the camera lens. This allows the phone to sit flush in the unit and also allows you to have a dashcam if you wanted to record your driving.
As you would expect, the dock recharges your phone as you drive without having to plug in additional wires. I was able to to listen to the MLB At Bat app (listening to radio broadcast over 3G) and still end up with a little more battery than when I started.
All in all this is a rock solid accessory. True, the price tag is a little steep. I would have preferred that they used less elegant package design to shave a few dollars off, but the device itself is so well designed and such a perfect compliment to the phone that it is well worth it. Over the life of other phones I have had to buy three or four car docks for $12-15 that didn’t do anything but hold the phone. This one does a lot more and I think will last a lot longer. Money well spent.
Quick look video