Ever since Apple changed the video-out functionality of iPods and iPhones, simple video dock and cable accessories have become altogether too expensive: a really nice combination of a video dock, RF remote, and charger used to go for $70 or less (see: Griffin’s since-discontinued AirDock), but these days, Apple’s accessories will set you back a comparatively ridiculous $100, and no one else has substantially undercut that price — until now.
Enter Dexim’s AV Dock Station with Remote Control for iPhone/iPod ($70), which will appear this month under the RichardSolo brand name in the United States. The AV Dock Station includes an iPod- and iPhone-compatible audio/video TV dock, composite AV cables, a wall power supply, an Infrared remote control, and eight Dock Adapters for use with both iPhone models and recent iPod models—the AV Dock Station notably doesn’t evoke the iPhone’s infamous nag screen. Our review unit came with a European power supply and white U.S. power converter, but RichardSolo’s version will have a standard U.S.-ready adapter.
From a functionality standpoint, Dexim’s package is the rough equivalent of buying Apple’s $49 Apple Universal Dock and overpriced $49 Composite AV Cable, though there are certain compromises and benefits to picking the AV Dock Station instead. Apple’s Universal Dock works with both composite and component video cables, as well as iPod and iPhone Dock Connector cables for connection to a computer; the Dexim set lacks a Dock Connector port and doesn’t have a component video option. It is streamlined solely to output audio and video to a TV via yellow, white, and red RCA-style plugs while charging the iPhone or iPod’s battery—nothing else. Video and audio quality are indistinguishable between the Apple and Dexim solutions: they both do a fine job of outputting clean visuals and sound.
It also bears mention that Dexim’s streamlining efforts extend even further than Griffin’s did with the aforementioned AirDock, which featured a rear mini-USB port, a combination of nice aluminum and plastic for the base, and a multi-room RF remote control. The AV Dock Station is made entirely from lightweight plastic, and its remote control is—like Apple’s—based on Infrared technology rather than RF. This means that you can only control the Dexim dock by pointing the remote directly in its line of sight; thankfully, due to a prominent Infrared sensor on its face, it works without issues from a distance of 30 or fewer feet.
To Dexim’s credit, the remote is otherwise more fully-featured than Apple’s or Griffin’s. It includes iPod and iPhone menu navigation buttons that let you scroll through menu choices to select new songs or videos, and the track, volume, and play/pause controls work just like Apple’s buttons. It’s not fancy, but it looks fine, and works as expected; Dexim also includes two batteries for the remote in its package rather than one.
Overall, the AV Dock Station offers iPod and iPhone users an affordable video-to-TV docking, remote control, and charging solution—one that falls a little short of the high material standards set by the best of the past docks we’ve seen, but still offers enough functionality for the dollar to merit our strong general recommendation. If you’re planning to connect your iPod or iPhone to a TV with composite inputs, and need remote control functionality, this is a smarter purchase than buying Apple’s accessories; only if you need component-style connectors will you really need to look elsewhere.
Company and Price
Model: AV Dock Station
Compatible: iPod classic, nano, touch, iPhone, iPhone 3G