by Steve Rohde
For what it's worth, I consider myself an average Treo 650 user. I really like the idea of a device that combines two things I use on a regular basis: my cell phone and my Palm handheld. It took me a while to make the shift to a Treo only due in part because I felt WiFi should be a regular feature on a Palm handheld.
In July 2005, I made the switch to an all-in-one device, and am now a true “Treo lover.” The lack of on-board or even SD card WiFi options are disappointing, but the Treo's other features make up for this limitation. That said, I now use my Treo for nearly everything: from using the phone, SMS, calendar and to-do list, to listening to MP3s and watching video.
The one thing missing from my system is a dock. Not just a standard "stick-it-in -n-sync" dock, but a dock that would enhance the Treo. I use a Treo to simplify, so a dock should do the same — offering a sync features, a charger, an amplified speaker for music and for speaker phone use.
Palm, Inc. offers no such creature, though Brando Workshop does in their $32 Brando Treo 650 Music Dock. For the most part it does exactly what a Treo dock should do, and more.
I like the sleek design and color, which fits well with the design of the Treo. It's quite small, with a good angle and position for seeing and using screen. The power indicator light is as intense as a blue light on a police car, which is no big thing for me, but it may be distracting.
The sound quality of the speakers is sufficient, and the sound range is pretty good. I think that the Dock, like the Treo, is not really meant to replace a stereo system. The Sound is good, but by no means are they comparable to that of a high priced speaker system. There is little distortion at louder levels. This is after all a small dock to amplify sound from a Treo, not a Bang + Olufsen sound system! :-)
The Treo fits well in the dock and is easy to remove. Just drop it in the cradle, then pick it up and go when you need to hit the road. The Charging and Sync features work pretty seamlessly. One missing feature is a quick sync hardware button commonly found on older Palm docks. It would have been nice to hit a sync button rather than navigating to the HotSync application on the Treo.
My Dock came with Euro power plug that connects to a usb connection. I used the powered usb on my laptop and it worked well until I had a “too much power draw” on my USB port. I solved this by plugging my laptop into the wall socket.
I love the external input; it gives options of listening to other devices without having to squeeze another item on your desk. I've now used the Brando Treo Dock to replace the cheap speakers on my computer.
Another missing feature: a battery option to power the speakers. I drive a bus, and it would have been nice to bring this dock along to listen to tunes or watch a movie while on layover.
As far as the speakerphone option, it worked well, for what I use of it. I don't much use my Treo at work, but the sound is decent and of course, the Treo still has an excellent built-in microphone which more or less makes the dock's speakerphone option a bit redundant.
Just like my Treo the Brando Treo Music Dock has changed my life by making things a little bit easier and simpler. It gave me a dedicated dock to charge my Treo, a speaker system to listen to music and a speaker phone to make calls with.
My vote: thumbs up to Brando for doing what Palm, Inc. hasn't had the time or desire to do for the Treo. The only features I really wish it offered are: a dedicated hardware sync button, and the option to power the unit with batteries for the road.
Editor's Note: This review was written by my little brother Steve, who received a nice shiny Treo Music Dock from Brando for his efforts. Thanks Steve for reviewing this interesting device and thanks to Brando for the review unit. — Mike Rohde
UPDATE 2006-01-27: Peter from Palm Addict wrote to mention he'd done a review of the Music Dock as well, over at PalmAddict, so be sure to see Peter's review too.