How to buy a docking station
A docking station buying guide
Have you ever wished that you could make your mobile device produce a bigger, richer sound? If so, then you might be interested in learning how to buy a docking station. There are many types of docking stations available, and they can expand the functionality of your mobile devices. From advanced models that interface with your computer to simple models that hold and charge a phone, docking station designs vary greatly. To decide which model is the best docking station for you, it is helpful to think through some of the following factors.
>> What type of device do you have?
The first thing to think about as you learn how to buy a docking station is the type of device you have. Since so many docking stations work with one specific device or another, it is helpful to know what to look for so you choose a compatible model. This is especially true if you are considering buying a docking station as a gift for somebody else.
iPods, iPhones and iPads have the most options available when it comes to docking station designs, though there are plenty of types of docking stations that work with other MP3 players and other mobile devices.
>> What do you want a docking station to do?
The next consideration as you explore how to buy a docking station is identifying what you want the docking station to do. One of the fun parts about shopping for docking stations is that the features and functions vary considerably from design to design. For the most part, every make and model is unique, but they share key docking station advantages, which include propping, charging and automatically syncing your device with your computer.
Considering some of the common docking station uses will help determine which one may be best for you:
- Holding and charging your device: This is the simplest type of docking station, and there are a myriad of models available. Most of them are quite compact. Choose these based on the design and included features.
- Playing music from your device: Docking stations for iPods, iPhones and iPads typically include the ability to play music directly from the device. Sometimes they also function as an advanced alarm clock. If you do not have an Apple device, you are in luck because there are plenty of these MP3 accessories that work with many types of mobile devices. If you are looking for a model to work with non-Apple devices, look for built-in audio cables that plug into your headphone connector.
- Charging and synchronizing with your computer: For the most part, syncing capability is compatible with Apple devices, but there are some designs that sync other popular devices. When a device syncs, it automatically shares files with your computer.
- Holding your phone while you are driving: Some people like to keep their phone handy or visible while they are driving, but do not want it in their lap or drifting around the car. For the most part, there are three styles of these types of docking stations: vent attachments, cup holder models and suction cup dash mounts. Oftentimes, these docking station designs are universal, which means they work with many types of devices. They may or may not charge as they hold your device.
- Holding your device for reading or watching videos: These types of docking stations combine the functionality of a stand with the features of a docking station. Look for extras like built-in speakers, charging and syncing capabilities when thinking about how to buy a docking device if this is what you are after.
>> What size works for you?
As you determine how to buy a docking station, you might notice that music player docking stations vary greatly in size. There are models as small as a deck of cards and as large as a small PA speaker. Models that have no speakers tend to be low profile, often barely larger than the device itself.
If you are looking for docking station features that allow it to function as a stereo system, consider models that offer large speakers, which often produce quality sound. The overall size will increase as the speakers become larger. So keep that in mind if space is at a premium in your home.
>> Do you use your phone as your alarm clock?
Another consideration as you think about how to buy a docking station is if you already use your phone as an alarm clock. If so, you might like an alarm clock docking station.
Alarm clock docking stations are among the most popular types of docking stations. Often, they are fully programmable and can interface and control your device. For example, you can program it so that you fall asleep and wake up to your playlist. In addition, these stations often include other features such as Internet radio, AM/FM radio and a digital clock.
>> Do you want your docking station to double as a stand?
If you like to watch videos or read on your device, then you might want to consider docking stations that function as a stand. These docking stations feature a way of comfortably propping up your device so that you can watch it or read hands-free. Like most docking stations, these stands also charge and/or sync your device. Some of the more advanced models also include built-in speakers to provide a richness and depth to music and soundtracks.
>> What are some of the extra features that you would like?
Some docking stations for iPods and MP3 players include extra features like a remote control. One of the ways that some types of docking stations are making themselves fully functional for all devices is by including a USB port. Since most mobile devices can charge from a USB connection, it makes it simple and convenient to connect any type of device to the docking station.
For the car, you might also want to think about installing a car stereo system that includes a docking station. It makes it easy to play music, make calls and do a variety of other functions while being hands-free. One of the more popular docking station designs for the car includes a pop out slot where you can attach your device. These stereos might use cords or Bluetooth technology to connect the device's audio to your car's speaker system.
As you learn how to buy a docking station, think about the functions you want it to perform, and then choose a design that speaks to you. With so many docking station features available and compatibility for devices of all types, you have a good chance at finding the perfect docking station to suit your needs.