I really like Dexim’s AV Dock Station, a handy little gadget that lets you connect your iPod or iPhone to your TV. In fact, if not for one pretty major flaw, I’d be ready to buy one of these myself.
The DRA107 AV Dock Station is a compact iPod/iPhone dock that connects to your TV via composite A/V. The necessary cables — and eight different iPod/iPhone connectors — are included in the $69.95 package. You just connect it to your TV, plop your iPod into the dock, and you’re in business. The Dexim dock has its own battery, and comes with an AC adapter for charging it when it gets too low. It will also charge your iPhone or iPod when the device is in the dock.
You can control your iPhone or iPod by using their controls (even when in the dock) or by using Dexim’s remote — which is convenient, but a bit limiting. The remote’s buttons didn’t always work as I expected, largely because while the round wheel on the remote looks like the touch-sensitive controls on the front of my iPod Nano, the remote itself is not touch-sensitive. And pressing the wheel up or down controls the volume, rather than letting you navigate through menus. Instead, you have to resort to using up-and-down arrows on the remote to navigate, which seems counterintuitive.
Once you start playing a song, a video, or even a YouTube video on your phone, the content automatically displays on your TV screen. In my tests, most video looked very good, though some content looked slightly washed out. My iPhone and iPod don’t hold any true HD content, but the videos I played back looked sharp — much more so than standard-def content viewed on the same TV. Video automatically reformatted for playback on my 16:9 TV, and the audio was loud and clear. The overall experience was far more enjoyable than watching video on the small screen of an iPod or an iPhone.
I didn’t have the same luck with the AV Dock Station’s audio playback, though. Many times, I was simply unable to get it to play on my TV. I’d start a song on my iPod or iPhone, but my TV would display a message saying it wasn’t receiving a signal from the AV connection. Dexim said the problem was likely due to a faulty setting on my TV, which I was unable to fix. I was able to get the audio to play sporadically, but even when it was working, the audio quality left me underwhelmed — in large part due to the low quality of my TV speakers.
You can find similar products that will connect your iPod/iPhone to your TV. Griffin, for one, offers a $50 set of cables that will handle the job, though without the neat dock to keep you organized. Apple also offers a dock and a set of cables, but buying both products will cost you $100.
I like the Dexim dock’s affordable price. And while I’m not sold on the idea of playing my music through my TV, I still wish the AV Dock Station worked consistently as advertised. That would make me much more eager to recommend what seems to be a pretty cool product.