The Nexus One car dock has arrived, and we've mounted it in our venerable Honda Accord for a quick spin around the block, and for a few photos in the garage. (More on that in a bit.) Join us after the break as we see what all the hubbub's about, and whether the Nexus One car dock is worth the $55 you'll have to shell out for it.
The dock is a basic ball-and-socket pivot joint. Range of motion isn't great, but that may loosen up with time. It has a built-in suction cup, and there's an adhesive disc you can use if your dash is textured. The bottom of the Nexus One slides into the dock, and the same gold connectors used in the desktop dock again provide power to the phone to charge it, when the 12v cigarette lighter charger is used. The top of the phone clips in on the other side.
There are small cutouts for the microphone on the bottom, as well as the noise-canceling mic on the rear of the phone. Volume buttons are on the top of the dock (and only work over Bluetooth).
It's an excellent fit. There's no way your phone's going to come loose, and it's stylishly done. There's enough play in the spiraled charging cord to keep things flexible, but not so much as it would get in your way.
The dock has its own speaker, and it's pretty darn loud and (unless you're in a notoriously noisy Honda) should be able to beat any road noise. Convertibles are another story, of course. Incoming phone calls are announced with a loud and distinctive ring.
When plugged in, the Nexus One syncs to the dock via Bluetooth. That's when the car app kicks in. The car app has five options -- view map, navigation, voice search, contacts and search. The first two launch Google Maps, which works per usual. Voice search is a welcome feature because the whole point of the dock is to keep your hands off the phone
Things go a little downhill with the contacts app in that it only displays in portrait mode. So, when you use it with the dock mounted horizontally, the contacts are sideways. Same goes for the traditional Android home screen. While you don't want to be fiddling with it while you're driving, you certainly don't want to have to look at it sideways, either.
Is it worth it?
At $55, the Nexus One car dock isn't cheap. But it's a very nice accessory and at this point is one you should definitely consider if you use your phone in the car.
We only have a few gripes, one major, two not as bad. We tested the dock on an overcast day, and still the AMOLED screen suffered from the usual washout outdoors. That'll get worse as there's more sun. (That said, things should look pretty sweet at night.) It's why we shot most of our photos for this review in a garage, though there are a couple outside that show had bad the glare was.
OK, that's not the dock's fault. But this one is: The screen should automatically go to its highest brightness when the phone is docked and charging. (Even better would be brightness controls in the car app, and/or automatic dimming at night via the ambient light sensor, which has issues of its own.) That and the above issue with the sideways contacts should be another easy software fix.
Also, we'd love to see an FM transmitter in this guy to pipe music, navigation and phone calls straight into the car's stereo speakers. That would have put this over the edge and made it worth of the otherwise general awesomeness Google's put into the Nexus One.
So would we recommend the Nexus One car dock? Yep. And you get snag one now for $55 at Google.com/phone.
The outdoors shots, with glare ...
And all the others ...