We all know the score here, you've got a nice Android phone and so you'd like to procure some accessories for this little guy. Well, it's sure to say there's a lot of desktop docks, cases etc out there for the vast myriad of Android devices. The one place that seems to be lacking however is speaker docks. There's not that many out there and for the most part there marketed as a speaker for Android devices but, in actuality there just an external bluetooth speaker.
Philips, seem to feel our pain and last year they released a set of speaker docks designed for Android phones. Admittedly, these are bluetooth - which actually has some benefits which I'll go through later - but this doesn't hold them back at all. There are three speakers for Android in the line-up; the smaller, more alarm clock-like AS111, the larger AS351 designed for portability and the biggest of the bunch, the AS851 which packs 30W RMS for a more room-filling sound.
I've been living with the AS111 for some time now so, let me share with you my findings below.
There's not much to be said about the design. It's shaped like an oversized hockey puck, it looks nice without being too flashy which is nice, as it blends in well. The digital clock face is bright, readable and has dimming options to boot, there's also a night-lite type of feature that puts an orangey glow around the bottom of the dock - it's not much but it looks nice. I'd have liked the Universal micro-USB connector to be a little bit less chunky and perhaps recessed into the device but, it's certainly no deal breaker for it to protrude from the unit like this. It's of a good size as well, it fits well on my bedside table - as you can see - whilst leaving room, if you were looking for a speaker for the bed without swallowing space then this it it.
Ease Of Use
I'm sure many of you will have cringed once I managed Bluetooth - it's going to be a pain to set-up, right? Well, initial set-up takes about 5 minutes, you need to download and installed Philips companion app from the Play Store and let it do it's magic. By magic, I mean that it'll set the time on the clock for you and install any firmware updates. The Fidelio app also comes with weather and the usual features for a clock app but, to be honest it's not really that good. Also, if you still have the app installed - I don't anymore - then it will turn on bluetooth and launch itself in the background every time you plug in to a micro-USB port. Every time. This is extremely annoying as I have a desktop dock for my Nexus. You don't need the app once you've set the device up though, and once you've paired the device with your phone/tablet then it's as easy as dropping in to the dock and turning Bluetooth on your phone on. Pairing is quick and the range is respectable as well.
As with a great many things in life, sound quality is awfully subjective. I enjoy music, have a very capable hi-fi with speakers I took great care in choosing and feel are of excellent quality. The AS111 is, by no means, meant to be a booming room filler. It's designed for bedside table use or for small-rooms and for that purpose it more than excels. Sound is crisp, clear and actually has some bass to it for a unit of it's size, it also goes pretty loud without becoming distorted too badly. If you're going to be listening to music, podcasts or radio streams at a medium volume you can't go wrong with this device. I primarily bought it for podcasts and it handles this use no problem.
How 'Universal' Is It?
The AS111 is - like it's two siblings in the range - designed to work with pretty much every Android phone out there, whether the USB port is on the bottom or not. It works fine with my Nexus S and my father's HTC Desire. Documentation for the device states that it works fine a great many devices that feature micro-USB ports on the side, they achieve this by having risers either side of the micro-USB connector that can be adjusted to suit whatever device. The connector can also be place either way round with a simple twist as can the placement be moved side-to-side. All in all, I think it makes a competent charging dock for any Android device, let alone the added speaker functionality.
I've been using this dock for quite a while now, and I have to say it's slipped into my daily routine perfectly, there's no hassle in setting it up for every use and I've yet to have a connection issue. It's high-time that manufacturers woke up and produced more quality accessories like this, after all, it's not as if the market isn't out there. This little speaker dock has more than done me proud and has been well worth the money, not for a long time have I had such an accessory that worked so well with so little hassle. If you're looking for a way to get some more sound out of your phone, then this is more than an adequate solution, for sure.