Nexus 7 dock review

After what's felt like an eternity, we finally have our mitts on the official ASUS dock for the Nexus 7 tablet. This would be the dock that finally takes advantage of those four little gold contacts on the side of the tablet , allowing you to charge the device without having to worry about plugs. That's a technology that goes back to the Nexus One days (and you'll recall how that dock took its sweet time to get to us, too), and we're glad to finally have it with Google's premiere 7-inch tablet.

Google's still not selling this dock, though, and availability is spotty with other online retailers. We picked ours up for about $40 before shipping.

This isn't an intricate accessory by any means, but it's very much a welcome one. A few quick thoughts after the break:

  • If you ever used the Nexus One dock or the Galaxy Nexus dock, you know what you're getting here. Plug in a microUSB charger -- you'll have to provide your own -- then place the tablet in the dock. Easy. (And easier than the less symmetric Galaxy Nexus, by the way.)
  • No note that this isn't the same kind of wireless charging as what's on the Nexus 4. Those gold pins are important.
  • Once you do that, you'll be asked if you want to use the dock for audio playback, using the 3.5mm audio jack that's on the back of the dock. If you blow past it or want to change it later, go to Settings>Sound>Dock for the options. There's no setup here -- the audio out just works.
  • In addition to charging the tablet, placing it on the dock fires up the new "Daydream" screen saver feature that's in Android 4.2. By default, you'll get a desk clock. Go to Settings>Display>Daydream for more options. (See our full post on the Daydream feature here.)
  • This dock charges your tablet and outputs audio only. It does not sync to a computer. (Technically you probably shouldn't even try to power it off a computer.)

And, well, that's it. There's no trick to getting the Nexus 7 in and out. No surprises here. It's a simple -- and stylish -- dock. And that's why it's baffling that we're just now seeing it hit consumers' hands, and you can't even buy it directly from Google Play yet. Strange. It'll cost you about $40 or so, depending on where you pick it up, and that's not a bad price for being able to forgo the charging cable every time you need to juice up.

Phil Nickinson
  • I was thinking that I would never buy one of these. Then I got to thinking my Nexus 7 could end up being a sweet alarm clock.
  • Would still be pretty bright even on the dimmest setting in a dark room since it is an LCD. The entire backlight would be lit.
  • I just received mine yesterday, and you are absolutely right, too bright at even the dimmest setting. I hope to find an alarm/clock widget replacement that turns off the screen until you tap it. So far, it works just fine in every other respect and a welcome addition.
  • You don't need the dock for this. When I picked up my Nexus 7 at Staples last year I got the cheap M-Edge case which works great in landscape. And if I need a charge, I just plug in the stock charging cable. :)
  • A company in Norway, forgot the name, has a whole shipment of Nexus docks on their site for sale, should be able to google it to find. Weird that some place in Norway got these things ahead of other countries.
  • It's Dustinhome and it's Swedish, but has sites for Denmark, Sweden and Norway.
  • Is there data through the usb?
    I remember the nexus one if you were to plug it into a computer it would just charge the device.
    I could see this dock really useful for development, but if there is no data its pretty useless in my case
  • Nope.
    "This dock charges your tablet and outputs audio only. It does not sync to a computer." -Edit:Typo
  • I'll wait for the price to drop some before i jump on this. I use my N7 as my primary "DJ" for my weekly get-togethers. it would be really nice to have something like this instead of remembering to plug it in so i have enough juice for 4-5 hours of streaming.
    and i would LOVE to have 2....i for DJ and one for my night stand alarm clock.
  • hm, so... how do I get one? android central doesn't sell it, Google play doesn't sell it, and I don't even see it on Amazon... links?
  • I think B&H is the only place selling it right now. I pre-ordered mine last week:
  • B&H Photo has it listed but out of stock, though they will email you when it's in. I'm on the list waiting.
  • B&H is where I got mine from. Ordered Dec. 16. Guess they didn't have much stock. (That's also why I didn't list any specific retailers here.)
  • Question:
    I have Nexus One, and Nexus One's dock uses the pogo pin to sync/start the Bluetooth pairing and the music passes through Bluetooth.
    Is that the same in Nexus 7, or audio actually got passed through the pins as well (as it has 4 pins, instead of N1's 3 pins)
  • It passes the audio through the pogo pins.
    Though if you wanted to, you could use something like tasker to automatically pair with a bluetooth speaker any time you docked.
  • It's funny (or sad) that everyone seems to say pins when referring to the contacts on the device (Galaxy Nexus or Nexus 7). I am definitely guilty of that. It took so long to get the Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 7 docks that we were not used to seeing the actual pogo pins, just the contacts. Most people ended up calling the contacts on the device pogo pins.
  • @Phil I too am curious if the Nexus 7 will sync from my computer through the Dock, do you think you can run a test for us?
  • I got mine yesterday! Didn't work for me.. if I connect the usb cable to the PC my N7 is still just charging. I am using an extension cord, but I doubt that thats a problem.
    Kinda sucks but it's ok for me ;)
  • I would have three of these: bedside, desk and entertainment system. It is a shame they are so expensive and difficult to find, for what looks like quite a simple dock.
  • So you paid $120+ to dock a $200 tablet? You're the type of customer Google and Asus must love.
  • He didn't say he bought them.. did he?
  • Exactly. And I believe I said I thought they are expensive too... I would like three, but probably not going to happen.
  • Expensive? £24.99 in the UK, and great value.... Very well made, solid feel, and with daydream running, enough to make iPad owners VERY jealous... (I am using HD Widgets weather daydream that shows clock and animated weather.), but Currents is also really nice, or just the standard clock...
  • Damn shame this is such a pain in the ass to even see or get and that Google isn't even selling it. So how the hell do u get one?? Damn shame..
  • Asus shop. I wasn't even in the country last week when they went on sale, but had no problems ordering two. They arrived today. Perhaps you need to wake up?
  • The only places I have found that claim to have in stock are charging $100..for that price I could get 1/2 a Nexus 7 AND A CHARGER! I really want but I will hold out until the supply normalizes. $39.99 I think is a fair price.
  • I assume it wont fit on there with a case on it. I have a folding magnetic case.
    Not really adding any convenience if I have to take it out of the case first. (especially for $40)
  • I ordered mine in the german asus shop. But it's constantly sold out there :D.
    Got my one yesterday though :)
    Im lovin it so far, but like I already said, syncing data over usb isn't possible for me.
    It isn't the most useful accessory but definitely a super stylish one ;-). Edit: 30€ in Germany
  • You could try AirDroid to do it over WiFi. I don't even plug my N7 to my PC, unless its to copy a 4GB movie.
  • Just use tasked to automatically turn on airdoid when you put it in the dock as well.
  • Just use tasked to automatically turn on airdoid when you put it in the dock as well.
  • I've (reluctantly) added a line about USB syncing. See this post for other things the dock does not do.
  • Cute, makes waffles. Sorry you are being bothered by people asking questions about your review. If we are bothering you too much maybe it's time for a vacation. Yeah Phil, maybe you should chill out before MWC so you can come back fresh for it. I get it, you are (probably) burned out, take a break, relax for a week come back refreshed. If pertinent questions about one of your reviews is going to get you this worked up maybe it's tiem to step back and breath. Don't ban me :)
  • lol. I'm very much rested. But these sorts of docks have never done true USB support iirc. :)
  • Which is a shame, since I had Palm docks once upon a time that could do it. Seems that tech should be moving forward, rather than losing capabilities.
  • Especially with a price like this.
    $40 and it doesn't even come with an AC adapter? Come on...
  • Yall could save a bunch of money by buying a belkin bluetooth receiver off amazon for $25. Then you can listen to music, charge (with a reg charger), and use the tablet all at the same time!!
  • sells it for $39.99. Got mine last week and love it.
  • Has anyone asked ASUS about this? Why it's taken so long to churn out a simple piece of plastic with minimal circuitry and, priced at $40, likely a hefty margin, is beyond me.
  • Hefty Margin?? In order for something like this to be made they normally use injection molding. JUST to make the mold you are looking about about 10k. I hate it when people complain on prices when someone has no clue what costs truly are to make something.
  • All this crap is made in China and they churn out stuff like this for practically nothing. Stop acting like these are hand made by college educated people in the US. You can get cell phone docks for like $5 online. This is just a little larger.
  • After the mold is made you are absolutly correct you can make then for cheap. I have actually seen people make molds. Yes they are done by educated people. the Mold itself is not cheap.
  • Agree. When considering just the cost of materials/assembly without sunk costs, it's probably a decent margin (wouldn't say hefty)... but then you have to consider R/D (paying the engineers, supplies for prototypes, etc), testing, marketing (haven't seen this part yet), FCC approval process, and all of the other sunk costs, on a product that they are probably planning on selling <1mm units, + opportunity cost on every unit made that is not sold at full retail, factor in the yield to the partner making the sale and you're scraping thin on something like this. Obviously they wouldn't make it if there weren't some profit in this, but really this is more of a ploy to get you to show off your Asus Google Nexus 7 and create more brand recognition for both, as well as a nerdgasm for folks like me that go nuts for things like this.
  • Should be $10. Maybe $15 with a charger...
  • It's easy enough to say what it *should* be, but a company can't afford to lose money on a product.
  • Meh. I still say too little, too late. Not much functionality for 40 clams... P.S. That Panasonic is lookin' good, Phil!
  • Very much digging the camera.
  • I have an N7 and an S3, I gave my wife my iPad 1 and only use my iPhone 4 as an iPod in the kitchen. I've converted to Android wholesale so I say this as a user of the product. This is why Apple is leading the tablet market, it should not ever take this long to get a simple accessory to market. This should have been a launch day release on Play. There is no excuse that Google or Asus can make to justify this delay.
  • Sadly, I have to agree with you on this. It is, IMO, the absolute biggest problem Android has: accessories. Look at how many accessories get sold for iOS devices. I *know* with 75% of the market being Android they could make at least as much selling accessories for Android devices, but the problem comes to this: which devices do you make the accessories for? That's the one advantage to Apple's "walled garden". They have one phone and one form factor (until iPhone5 anyway) so making accessories was easy. There are literally 100+ Android-powered phones, and every single one of them is slightly different. I suspect the long delay here was Asus hedging their bets and waiting to see if the N7 would actually sell before they started on the process of getting these to market.
  • I'd be willing to entertain an excuse if this were the only time, but accessories have been either seriously delayed or nonexistent for every single Nexus device.
  • Still waiting got these to hit Norway. I have my pre-order in, but as of right now it says it will arrive in early March.
  • Can someone who owns one of these please tell me if the audio out is fixed or variable? I would think fixed but variable would work best with my speakers.
  • CDW listing it at $34.99, but call for availability, so can't check the shipping cost. Through CDWG it is $34.90, again call. I could get it for $30.96 through our purchasing agreement, when available. However, we have been replaced and I wont be working there next week and shouldn't be buying stuff either. :( I can do without though. It doesn't have much appeal to me.
  • Can we put the N7 in the dock and connect it to a TV via HDMI and a PS3 controller via micro USB?
    Would be a handy game console :)
  • Meh. Doesn't do anything my smart case doesn't do. And the case was $5 on Amazon. My N7 lasts easily through the day even with heavy use so it isn't a big deal to just plug in the charger each night or even every other night.
  • Received my dock today. Connected the power cord, but the Nexus 7 isn't charging when placed in the dock. Doesn't go into dock mode like shown in Phil's review. Is there a setting where you have to activate the pin connectors? Mine's still on 4.1.2 as I don't want to update to 4.2 until the bugs are fixed. "Dock Mode" doesn't require 4.2 does it?
  • I got mine today and it is very finicky. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. When it does work if I barely touch it it stops charging. I tested my wife's nexus 7 and it worked flawlessly. I compared the two tablets and her pogo contacts are almost flush with the tablet. Mine are recessed a bit. I'm pretty sure this is the problem. How do yours look? Also, make sure you are using the charger that came with your tab. The day dream stuff and dock mode should be effortless even with 4.1.2
  • Did you ever figure this out? I just got mine today and it does not charge. I am using AOKP JB Milestone 1 (4.1.2) rom and doesn't seem to charge.
  • I got the (US) retailer's notification that I could pre-order, but no indication of when they would be in stock and shipping. I'm not sure I like the idea of a (possible) charge to my card then waiting for the product to drop. I'll wait. Of course, that's what I said about the Nexus 4, "I'll wait." I'm still waiting. :(
  • I love the idea of it but think like most it is over priced. Since it does not come with a ac adapter and cable thinking $20-25 would be about the right price. For $40 it makes it just a little too much to have more then one. I would love to have one in the shop/garage and one in the house.
  • Completely agree.
    For $40 it should at the very least have come with an AC adapter.
  • Would this dock work with a screen protector, like an xo-skin, installed on the nexus 7?
  • Nice Review. Docks are always mans best friend.
  • dock actually does not work as advertised. It automatically;lly routs sound to audio out regardless of sound setting, very frustrating YOU HAVE TO CONNECT SPEAKERS IN ORDER TO GET SOUND