26
Jan
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After months of speculation, pre-orders, and cameo appearances, it's finally here (kind of) – one of the precious few official Nexus accessories users have ever been able to purchase: the Nexus 7 Dock. After snapping one up when they appeared at B&H, I was one of the unlucky handful to receive a "we regret to inform you" email, noting that the dock was not, in fact, available yet. Just a few days later, though, my dock showed up in the mail.

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For those still on the fence about whether the dock is worth the hype it's enjoyed, I decided to give the accessory a quick review. In a word, the official Nexus 7 dock is nice. Is it a must have, can't-miss purchase? Maybe not, but if you want a classy way to stand up your tablet, you won't find a better option than ASUS' official dock.

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What it Looks Like

The dock is sleek. It's big enough to cradle the edge of the Nexus 7, but not much bigger. That said, it's weighty. It feels very solid, and has a rubbery bottom that will keep it from sliding around. When inserted, the tablet rests at about a 110° angle.

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It's an unassuming object, to be sure – the only disruption in its smooth, matte surface is a "nexus" mark on the front, and an ASUS logo around back. Of course, it's also got a chunk carefully sliced from its backside, where the microUSB and 3.5mm audio plugs live.

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Inside the groove that holds the Nexus 7 in place, there's nothing but four pogo pins, used for audio transfer and charging. The instruction booklet that comes with the dock says to "firmly insert Nexus 7 into the socket until it is properly seated," but there's no inserting to be done. The tablet slips right into the groove without any indication that it's secure, but stays seated just fine.

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Other than that, there's not much to say about the dock's form factor – it's sleek and smooth with a matte finish, and gently cradles the Nexus 7 at a good viewing angle. The only downside is that the dock can pick up a lot of finger prints, but it's extremely easy to clean, even with a dry cloth.

What it Does

For some, what makes the dock worth its $40 price tag is not just what it looks like, but what it does. Besides holding your Nexus 7 steady, the dock can output audio to speakers or headphones, and can simultaneously charge the device, both accomplished using the pogo pins mentioned earlier.

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As soon as you seat the tablet in the (plugged in) dock (using your Nexus 7's own microUSB adapter), a dialog pops up that will allow you to choose whether audio is handled through the dock's 3.5mm port, or through the tablet's built-in speaker. The dialog is a little redundant, but you'll only have to deal with it once.

Should you have set Day Dream to "while docked," your N7 will also enter Day Dream Mode. There are just a few apps that support Day Dream right now, but it's a promising feature that only gets better when your tablet is held up in a dock.

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Of course, the Nexus 7 already has a 3.5mm jack you could use if you're so inclined, but the placement of an additional jack on the back of the dock makes for a cleaner, classier connection if you plan on using the accessory for audio output.

A Word About Audio Output

I'm certainly no audio buff, so take the following with a grain of salt, but the dock's audio output sounds pretty clean. I would say that the output, to the average listener, sounds as good or better than the 3.5mm jack on the Nexus 7.

Also worth noting is the fact that the dock will leave audio control up to your speakers, rather than the device itself, whereas the tablet's jack will let you adjust volume using the device's built in volume keys.

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The dock's delegation of volume to whatever you've got plugged in can be a hassle for those that insist on using headphones, but it isn't too much of a bother if you're using speakers or another 3.5mm compatible device with volume controls. If you need to use headphones, you can still plug them into the Nexus 7's jack and control the volume to your heart's content.

Is it Worth Forty Dollars?

As nice as the dock is, the ultimate question has to be "is it worth forty dollars?" To that, this reviewer's response is yes, but not for everyone.

It's great for those who want to watch a movie without holding their device, want to output audio, or just want the Nexus 7 to look classy while it charges. If you're not particularly concerned with any of those things, the dock isn't for you. If you are, the dock is absolutely the best, most visually appealing option out there. Now, if only we could get that Nexus 10 dock.

Sadly, ASUS' dock is still out of stock at B&H, but hit the link below to sign up for stock notifications.

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Liam Spradlin
Liam loves Android, design, user experience, and travel. He doesn't love ill-proportioned letter forms, advertisements made entirely of stock photography, and writing biographical snippets.

  • Wayne Randall

    Thanks for the review, but tell me this; is the tablet (not the dock itself) still stable if one was to poke in a new calendar event while docked, or tap through a playlist, or punch in a few equations on a calculator? With nothing but a little lip and gravity holding the N7 in place, it looks as if the Nexus would have a little springboard effect to it. This is my only concern especially if the area needing to be tapped is close to the top of the tablet.

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      Swiping and tapping the screen are no problem. In fact, if I intentionally push on the screen, the dock seems to want to rotate (if it's on a slick surface) around the center. If I push on the direct center of the screen, the whole assembly will tip a bit, but the N7 does not topple over.

      • Wayne Randall

        Thanks for the follow-up, I am glad to hear the tablet remains solid when docked. Much appreciated Liam.

    • Eric Jones

      There is a little movement towards the top, but I pushed pretty hard and it didn't fall. It actually lifted the front of the very heavy dock instead of flipping back. It has about a quarter of an inch of overlap. The movement wasn't annoying to me at all, but I'm also using it to play Pandora to my stereo, so not a lot of touching once it's in there. It's a very well put together dock, not cheap feeling at all. Pogo charging and audio work exactly as you would want it to. HDMI out would have been nice. I'm really hoping the Nexus 10 dock comes out soon! It looks like it has video out.

      • Wayne Randall

        Thank you Eric. This is on my list of things to acquire now that I am sure the N7 won't topple over when I actually use it docked.

  • HotInEER

    I thought about purchasing one of these myself, but I don't believe the capabilities of this stand justifies a $40 price tag. If this was around $24.99, than I would be all over this. Besides, this should have been available at launch or within 30 days of launch, not 6 1/2 months after release.

    • http://www.facebook.com/rick.ohnsman Rick Ohnsman

      I'm thinking 9.95 tops. This thing offers no additional functionality. Now if it added HDMI output... Sure, $40 would be great. I'll wait for an import knockoff.

      • SAI

        That's not possible as the N7 doesn't support MHL (aka HDMI-out)....best we can do is get Miracast enabled TVs

        • Robb Nunya

          One of 2 glaring flaws in the N7. Lack of SD support is the other. I love my N7, but wish I could expand the memory. And it's silly I have to use my EVO 4G LTE to push out to my TV. Oh well... ordered a Google Dongle for my back TV and have a Google TV for the front one, so I'll live.

  • http://twitter.com/JM77 Jason Murray

    The big question - is the USB port the right way up this time?

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      The microUSB plug goes in with the broad side on top, if that's what you mean.

  • Eric Jones

    If you do a search for the part number, 90-XB3XOKDS00030, on Google shopping there are more stores that are selling it. I'm unsure of how much stock they have, but if you want it you can probably get it. Originally B&H listed it with the part number slightly different 90-XB3XOKDS00020. Some sites are listing it with that number too for some reason. I don't know which one is right, but the first one is what is printed on the box for mine.

    • TylerChappell

      Though people should avoid buying it from CostCaptain, That website is junk, I placed an order on there back in november for some USB3.0 adapters for my external Seagate drives, and more than two weeks later the order was still "processing".
      That site is a scam, and they will not ship you your items. Fortunately I was able to get a refund.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=207500205 Justin Scott Grathwohl

      Looks like CDW has it in stock and for $35.

  • George

    Can u use the micro usb on the device while it is docked for a mouse or keyboard? (via otg)

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      You can use the microUSB port. I don't own an OTG connector, so I can't comment on that specifically, but the port is functional.

    • martmann

      Yes, I have a Logitech Unifying receiver connected to the micro USB connector (with OTG cable) that I have a K360 keyboard and MX Anywhere Mouse paired with (the pairing was done on a PC) that I can use while the N7 is charging on the dock.

      • George

        Running stock kernel/rom?

  • urbanpitch

    It will be great when i can hook up my Bluetooth keyboard for easier typing. That, i will have no objections to.

  • master94

    I stopped buying docks because I stopped having/seeing a use for them, but this dock is just too nice looking to say no to. I might just have to get one

  • Malcolm Lim

    so this means i can charge my tablet and use the microusb for say a controller at the same time?

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      Theoretically, yes.

    • andyr354

      I can use the dock to charge and access a usb drive with stickmount at the same time. Very handy for movies!

  • Bariman43

    I'm starting to wonder why so many recent Nexus related items are so difficult to get.

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      For the new devices, the problem is likely due in large part to a miscalculation of demand. As for the dock, Google and ASUS both know what the sales look like, so who knows.

  • Mark

    Not a single mention of daydream mode. #shameful

    • http://AndroidPolice.com/ Liam Spradlin

      Might want to double check that.

  • martmann

    They are in stock (and have been for a day or two), at Amazon through EXcaliber PC (cfree shipping on Azon, $11 through Excaliber PC) http://www.amazon.com/Asus-Docking-Station-Google-Nexus/dp/B009UQZPA0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1359289658&sr=8-1&keywords=asus+nexus+7+dock

  • rikedias

    What about the charging time? Any difference? Cause it takes forever to charge my N7. And just to be sure, there are no speakers to the dock, right?

    • MaxxA

      No speakers on dock.

  • didibus

    So I can't use the tablets volume rocker to control the volume? That is very disappointing, would have bought if it wasn't for this.

    • MaxxA

      Not true. Volume control absolutely does control volume while Nexus 7 is in dock.

      • didibus

        Thanks for the details. I wish android would be in control of the volume even when "for music and media". This way I was going to remote control it from my phone. Now I can't do that.

  • http://twitter.com/qu4ttr0 Drew

    Ordered one from ShopBLT.com 33.44 shipped... says they will be in Feb7th...we'll see

    • http://twitter.com/qu4ttr0 Drew

      A week later than quoted but the dock has arrived. nice look and feel, had a fair amount of weight to it, I assume to keep from tipping it over... so far in the first 10 minutes, I like it!
      Good purchasing and shipping experience from shopBLT.com and you cant beat the price.

  • Robb Nunya

    Psh. Like I want to take my tablet out of my case every time I come home...

  • sunny tewathia

    Wow, its wonderful....

  • http://www.facebook.com/miki.gavette Miki Gavette

    this is fantastic , I need it , but bit expencive :-(
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    http://www.dvdvideosoft.com

  • ZNSMith57

    So this has no Speaker built into the Dock itself? If not, are their good speakers for about the same price that you have found?