Nexus One car dock

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 hardware

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.

The software

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 ...

Nexus One Car dockNexus One Car dock

And all the others ...

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Nexus One car dockNexus One Car dock

Nexus One car dockNexus One car dock

Nexus One car dockNexus One car dock

Nexus One car dockNexus One car dock

 

Reader comments

Review: Nexus One car dock

29 Comments

One nice thing about having the Motorola Droid, the GPS Mount and Car Charger only set me back $30 at Frys.

However, I will give you this. Its nice that you plug in the power to the mount and not the phone. Another win for the N1.

With the custom Phone/Contacts app included in CyanogenMod, there's a setting to auto-rotate the Phone/Contacts screen.

Maybe -- but I have 5.0.5.3 and turned this setting on and nothing rotates. Really makes using the car dock (which also arrived for me today) a pain. Other than that I love it.

Ok, you have to enable rotation is a new different places for this to work. Contacts now rotates for me.

In CM 5.0.6 the launcher will rotate too.

Considering the idea behind voice search is hands free usage of the phone... voice dialing works fine, right? ;)

Yes, but the screenshots didn't show it -- while the "dailer and contacts" will rotate, the "in-call" screen (part of the same application I think) will not rotate. I was hoping it would, if the other two did, but it doesn't. This is what I care about because it's rather irritating to look at the screen and see the face, call timer, and buttons all sideways.

Even if it has voice dialing, I still have to press the end button.

OK - the big question for me is... I have a Bluetooth car stereo, if the phone is in the dock will it still allow me to pair with my stereo, or does it have to pair with the dock?

I have no use for the built-in speaker and volume controls... I just like that it swivels and would hold my phone in place.

According to the website (google.com/phone) you can adjust the dock settings so it doesn't have to connect to the on board speaker.

I have a bluetooth T605 car kit, and I'm able to use my N1 in this dock with the bluetooth connected to the T605 just fine. It's awesome!

I understand not including an FM transmitter, but they should have at least included a line-out.

Not sure if that would work. People have said the same thing about the desk dock for the Droid. But I don't think the music actually comes out over the USB connection.

So how snug does the phone fit? Any room for a case (I have the Seidio Innocase surface) which adds a couple of mm or does it have to be nekkid?

It's a pretty tight fit. It pretty much conforms to the shape of the phone.

That being said, it slides in and out with ease.

Phil -- Did you have to use the sticky-"nevergoingtocomeoff"-base to get the stand to stay on your Accord's dash? Mine doesn't seem to want to stay and I don't want to use the little disc because the warning labels all over it say that it'll never come off. Don't wanna mess up the car's upholstery because I'll sell her one day...

Thanks.

Not in these pictures, but I did just put it on. And damned if it's not ON, ya know? I do have a tiny lip, so maybe I can pry it off one day if need be.

if you mount this to the windshield instead of the dash, is the mount "flexible" enough to position the N1 without it being upside down?

The rod that connects the actual phone holder to the dash mount has two different methods for connection at each end. The side that attaches to the mount has that spherical rotation bearing we see in the picture.

The side that connects to the phone holder has another mini-ball-join that can swirl and pivot some, but it then rests in another joint that lets the phone holder rotate ~300 degrees (not quite a full circle).

Ive attached mine to the windshield and was able to rotate the holder into the proper landscape orientation.

The dock is fine. No line-out is really disappointing. I have tried taking it apart in hopes of hot wiring a line-out but stopped fearing I was going to snap something.

I like how the camera isnt covered like it is on the Droid car mount, could be useful for something a dash-cam or something along those lines.

Yes, the jack is exposed and works fine, but people would like a jack in the base (like the power plug) so you merely drop the phone in the stand and go - no muss and fuss with jacks.

I read all the talk about a line-out jack, why? the headphone jack is exposed on the N1, and droid! I run it into the aux on our work van, and works great for music, nav, speakerphone ect. it even mutes everything for voice directions, and calls....

Exactly... I don't get all the talk about it lacking a line out when the 3.5mm jack is purposely exposed for this very reason. Like the reviewer said... the only way this could be better is if it had a built-in FM transmitter.

I too and disappointed by the lack of an audio out. The desktop dock has one fer chrissakes, why not the car dock? That makes no sense. Charging and hooking it up to my sound system are my main uses for a dock...
I'm going to be looking at this product for a solution: http://www.belkin.com/IWCatProductPage.process?Product_Id=508754

Hopefully belkin or someone will come to save us. Too bad too, thats a nice looking dock.

The adhesive on the disk sucks! I took it out today for a few trips, purposely going on a rough road. The disk just ripped right up and the entire thing fell over. Luckily I caught it. My Garmin's been sitting there happily for years.

Audio out? Just plug in a jack into the side of the phone!