Design / overall look
When we first saw the Desk Phone Dock, we thought it looked like something out of Cupertino, in terms of its color and minimalist design. The upper half of the unit is finished in white matte, while the bottom half is an aluminum shell that acts as a stand and is angled to give you ergonomically friendly access to your phone when docked. The hollow shell of a landline has a candy-bar receiver that rests magnetically on the base, a dial for volume control with a flush mute button, and a recessed bay to rest your iPhone 3G, 3GS or 4. There's another dial, hidden under the phone's resting place, that lets you adjust your iPhone's tilting angle. We were really diggint the super-sleek look and design of the unit, but having to plug in a 3.5mm audio cable left us feeling a bit bummed out -- like most people, we prefer fewer cables whenever possible.
Although setting up this unit doesn't require more than one human, we figured a quick walk-through would be worth your while. In the packaging you'll find a USB cable that connects the dock to your computer for syncing, a power cord that inserts into the wall, and of course, the phone dock itself. All that's left is plugging the 3.5mm audio jack into your Apple smartphone. Once your cables are in order, you'll be all set to relive the olden days.
If you recall, the desktop Phone Dock does more than just charge your device when it's cradled. Like we mentioned above, the device has a USB port for syncing your iPhone with your computer, and of course, using the dock will give you the feeling of using an old school home phone. There's also a speakerphone that can naturally double up as a music speaker, but more on that in a sec. With everything set up, you then have the ability to take calls with a handheld receiver while your iPhone is charging. There's a catch, though: you'd think that with the iPhone docked, lifting the receiver off the base would pick up the call. Sadly, you still have to answer calls by dragging the iPhone's virtual unlock bar like you normally would. Ending calls is a bit unwieldy, too. Put the receiver back on the base and you'll be routed to speakerphone rather than it disconnecting your calls, which makes slamming the phone down in anger rather less satisfying.
As mentioned above, there's a big, friendly volume dial on the front with a mute button in the middle that, curiously, silences both ends of the conversation. And because this is a review of a phone (if you will), we should discuss call quality, right? Suffice to say talking on here sounds more or less like talking on an iPhone, with no noticeable increase or decrease in quality. Calls on speakerphone sounded loud and crisp, and neither end of the conversation experienced echo. As a music speaker, though, it disappoints -- music sounded totally washed out and got worse as we increased volume. For 150 bucks, you'd expect the loudspeaker to be of decent quality, but alas, we suggest sticking to using it just for concalls.
If you'll notice in the top image, there's a 3.5mm audio jack in the middle of the speaker grill. We're told that we could use this to record calls, and we did just that. Problem is, this only captures the audio from the other end of the call. The recording port simply routes the incoming audio into your computer, and you're left with a recording of one end of the conversation which essentially renders this feature useless.
Sure, it's 2011 and landlines are becoming a thing of the past, but hey, if you've already set your phone up to rest in a dock on your desk, this device might just be for you. The Desk Phone Dock is a bit bulky and adds more than one extra line to your land, but we'll admit: talking into a receiver like the olden days feels rewarding -- in a nostalgic sort of manner -- and it can turn your iPhone into a first-class speakerphone. At $150 it's certainly not a cheap toy, but if you're looking for a way to make your calls feel a bit more luxurious, this could be it.