* Prices may differ from that shown
Some people may know, others probably don't, with most not really caring, but a while back I entered into a new contract with my mobile service provider, which meant getting a new phone, although 'new' isn't quite the right word as the phone I was given isn't exactly new, but it is a cracking phone regardless.
The phone I committed myself to was in fact the Samsung l1900, or better known as Bond, Premium Bond... no, I mean, better known as the Samsung Galaxy S2.
But it's not the phone that I am writing about here, it is an accessory that I got my hands on that has become part of my desk ornaments and is almost as useful as the phone itself... although not quite.
The thing that I am talking about is, that is sat on my desk, is something called the Kitsound Data and Audio docking station and is specially designed to handle the Samsung Galaxy S2, (it may take the S3 as well, I'm not sure, but as I Haven't tried to slot in an S3 as yet I'm not going to commit myself. But if you send me your S3 I'll see if it fits).
* Firstly, What I'd like to do here is give a brief run down on what this looks like..!
It's about 60mm high, 75mm deep and about 85mm wide and made of a glossy looking black plastic on the front and inside the cradle itself. The rest of the unit, the back and side, is made of a more dull grey plastic, which seems to fit nicely in with the glossy black of the front.
On the front there is a small light which lets you know that the power supply is connect to the unit.
Then, inside the cradle itself there is the mini USB connector which slots into the bottom port of the phone and connects the two together. There's also a little soft cushioned section on the top of the inner section which designed to protect the rear of the phone when it is in the cradle. This cushioned piece also allows the phone to prop forwards a little and give the chance of air to circulate around the phone, helping it stay as cool as a cucumber, so to speak.
On the rear, when you turn the unit around, you'll see a mini USB port where you can plug either a mains lead into or a USB to mini USB connector so that you can transfer data to and from your phone and PC. There's also a standard looking 3.5mm jack which is for the audio part of this docking station. Here is where the leads that come with this unit slot into, with the other end of the leads slotting into the audio ports of your stereo system or external speakers.
This lead has a green plug on one end and at the other end there are two plugs, a red one and a white one, so it should connect to a range of external audio equipments.
Plus, if you want to, as I have done, you can actually plug external speakers directly into this 3.5mm port without using the supplied lead.
There are docking stations for a vast range of phone so do make sure you get the right one for the Samsung Galaxy S2 or you may have trouble getting it to work with your S2.
* And how does it work..?
Well, firstly, the cradle is designed to hold the phone at an angle of at about 35° so that when my phone is sat in it there's no danger of it falling forwards, smashing onto the waiting concrete floor, (we've all been there? Mobile falling off a table, seeming to be in slow motion, yet faster than your reaction as you throw out your hand to try and catch it as it tumbles towards the hard surface below, dropping onto the only area in the room that has no carpet covering it. Then, as you watch in horror, the phone makes impact, exploding like an un-milked cows udder, sending bits of plastic and technical bits all over the place, in your coffee and everywhere.
And worse still, when you check your insurance, it turns out that the policy ran out the day before, leaving you having to spend more money on a new phone).
So, when the phone is sat in the cradle it slots onto the USB connector and, after a few seconds, once the phone has found the cradle, so to speak, you can then use the phone as a stereo system, sort of, or simply synch up to your PC.
You can use the cables that come with this cradle to connect to a PC, stereo system or even a television.
Let me brief you on the cables.
There are two in total, on being a full size USB, which resembles the charger lead that you get with the phone, the other lead being an RCA lead, having a red and a white adaptor on one end and a green 3.5mm on the other.
Both leads are very capable of connecting the cradle for there appropriate purposes, be that a PC or a stereo.
* And what do I think of this cradle - slash- charger - slash- docking station..?
At the end of the day this cradle does exactly what it is supposed to do, plus, it really does look the part sitting on my desk like it really belongs there, holding my phone at just the right angle so that I can use the touch screen and see whatever is actually on the screen without any trouble at all.
It may be made of plastic, and does look a little cheap when you look at it from certain angles, but the plastic look isn't really that bad, plus, it can withstand a few knocks from the phone as I drop it into place.
The connection leads do exactly what they are supposed to do, they connect the cradle to a PC or stereo, making my phone into a lovely little sound system with the music coming out of my more powerful speakers that are on my stereo.
Connecting it to a stereo is so simple, especially as the connectors are all colour coded so that you know exactly what colour goes where, making mistakes a thing of the passed. And the same goes for the USB connection lead, although this is not colour coded, it's just black, but it's a full size USB so you know exactly what to do with it.
Then, to keep the cradle looking nice and neat, the wires all connect to the rear of it so, if placed on a desk or a shelf, the wires can be placed out of sight, this neatening the area around it, which is nice.
Personally, I use the USB connector simply for data transfer and a bit of top up charging, and stick to using the audio leads for listening to my music through larger speakers.
You can actually have the phone charging in the cradle whilst having the phone lugged up to the external speakers, which, technically, means that you can have the tunes on your phone playing through those external speakers for as long as you want to.
The leads are standard leads really, being a good enough length so you don't have to have this cradle on top of where ever you're plugging it into, be that your PC or you speaker system.
And another good thing about these leads is that they are so simple to understand, even if you've never ever connected these sorts of leads before. I mean, they're colour coded really so you can't get it wrong.
So, that's the good points, those being that it looks the part and does exactly what it should do. Sadly though, over the time I've been using this I've noticed that the mini USB connector in the cradle is becoming very loose indeed, almost to the point of actually rocking from side to side. Sometimes I've been afraid that the connector may come off completely and become stuck inside my phone.
I still use it for what it is supposed to be used for but I'm very very careful when connecting my phone to it. Although I supposed you could use an extension lead so that you know that the micro USB connector won't snap off and get stuck in my phone.
Don't get me wrong, as I said, I don't think the connector will snap off completely, but as mine has become very loose there's always that possibility.
Another thing that can be a downside to this is that it makes the phone totally useless in landscape mode as the phone can only stand upright in the cradle. But it you're only using this to charge the phone, data transferring or connecting up to an external speaker, then landscape mode isn't really needed so this downside isn't really a downside.
* So how much does this rather dashing docking station cost then..?
This charger-slash-data transferred-slash-cradle sells for about a tenner, which isn't too bad really considering that a normal charger sells for about £8.00 and for that you just get a length of wire wit a couple of bobbles on either end. I mean, for a couple more quid you get this cradle which is more than just a charger.
Would I recommend this cradle..?
As I said, it cost a little more than a normal charger and it makes your phone look good when it's sat on your desk.
The micro USB connector has become a little loose on the one I have but this could be down to the fact that I'm not exactly gentle with it when I'm slotting my phone into place. But it's still holding fine and manages to connect every time.