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Choosing the best iPhone Docking Station

Tuesday 21st December 2010 by Andy Simpson in Buyers Guides, iPad, iPhone, iPod, Mobile Accessories.

iPhone Docking Stations come in all shapes and sizes and they mean different things to different people. iPhone Docks are no longer just a convenient way to sync your data with your PC, some iPhone docking stations now feature powerful speakers, alarm clocks, memory card readers and more.

If you’ve been asked for  an iPhone Docking Station, you’ll need to ask a few questions in order to make sure you get the right type and to avoid any disappointment. The two main things to look out for are:

  • Which model of iPhone is it for?
    iPhone 4 is a different shape to the iPhone 3G/iPhone 3GS. Some docking stations include a changeable baseplate so that you can use all iPhones and iPods with them, but most don’t so make sure you’re buying for the right model.
  • What is the Dock going to be used for?
    If someone is after an iPhone dock just to sync their music with their Mac or PC, buying them an alarm clock dock will go down like a lead balloon.

To give you an idea on the different iPhone Docking Stations available, here’s a quick summary of some of the most popular iPhone Docks.

iPhone Charging Docks

Simple and effective, these kind of docks provide an easy way to keep your iPhone or iPad charged, without the need to fiddle around with cables. Simply place your device on the dock and it will start charging – provided its connected to a power source. This can be either your Mac, PC or Mains Charger. If they’re connected to your computer they will also sync your music photo’s and videos.

iPhone Charging Docks

iPhone Charging Docks

While the basic function is the same for all of them, they come in several shapes and sizes, from a simple dock, to one that will allow you to dock your iPhone with the genuine Apple Bumper fitted, to one that will charge an iPad at the same time.

iPhone Alarm Clock Docks

If the built in alarm isn’t loud enough, an alarm clock dock is a great alternative. You can choose to wake up to your music, FM radio or an alarm. All your music is played back through a built in speaker and most will have all your standard alarm clock features, such as dual alarm and snooze.

iPhone Alarm Clock Docks

iPhone Alarm Clock Docks

Some of the more advanced alarm clock docks will support music streaming by Bluetooth or come with a remote control. As your iPhone is docked all night, you’ll wake up in the morning to a fully charged battery.

iPhone Car Docks

Using your phone in the car is now an everyday activity, thanks to the wide range of third party apps available. Sat Nav and speed camera apps are now a pretty standard feature on most peoples iPhone, but in order to use them safely you’ll need a way to dock your iPhone in the car.

iPhone 4 Chargers

iPhone 4 Chargers

Car docks come in a range of styles. For casual users a windscreen mount holder will do the job just fine. If you want to keep your phone charged then go for a Brodit Active Holder, or if you are a heavy TomTom Sat Nav App user, the TomTom car kit is a must have item as it will act as a GPS enhancer, holder and speakerphone.

iPhone Speaker Docks

Sometimes, it’s all about the music. Speaker docks are a great way to free the music from your phone. As with the other docks on this page, their features vary considerably. Simple speaker docks are a big improvement over the built in loud speaker on the iPhone. If you want to be able to fill a room or power a house party, you may need something more substantial – in which case you may also want to take a look at Bluetooth Speakers.

iPhone 4 Speakers

iPhone 4 Speakers

Speaker docks have a couple of major benefits over Bluetooth speakers  - they keep your phone charged and often include a remote control. Streaming your music over Bluetooth will run your battery down a little bit quicker, but it does mean that you have your phone with you at all times, making it easier to change track/album.

Another option for listening to music through powered speakers is to use an Apple Airport Express. This is a WiFi device that you can connect to any speakers or stereo with an aux-in port. You can then use the newly released AirPlay feature of iOS 4.2 to stream your music to your stereo.

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