DLO HomeDock for iPod
There are several ways to bridge the gap between your iPod and your home-entertainment system, but the easiest and most comprehensive solution so far is the DLO HomeDock for iPod ($99.99). This small, simply designed module lets you play your music on your stereo and your photos or videos on your TV, controlling playback with a compact remote. It even works as a computer docking station. If the remote could control more iPod functions and if the package came with all the cables you'll need, instead of only half, the HomeDock would be close to perfect.
The HomeDock module measures 5.7 by 3.7 by 0.9 inches and comes in glossy black with a white top. It's an attractive device that fits right in with audio and video components. The top houses a dock for your iPod and a slot for the remote. You'll also find an S-Video port, three RCA jacks (left and right audio plus video), and a USB port on the rear. Judging by the packaging, the HomeDock was created before the last iPod launch, so it doesn't have a Universal Dock. Instead, a movable clear-plastic backrest supports your iPod. You can adjust it to fit any model with a dock connector. The design does the job, and it works with many iPod styles, but we'd prefer the snug fit of a Universal Dock. Hopefully the next version will have one.
The HomeDock comes with two A/V cables that let you connect the device to a home stereo, a television, or a shelf speaker. We're irritated, though, that it doesn't come with an S-Video cable (for some TV sets) or a USB cable, which you'll need to connect it to your computer. It requires a USB A-to-B cable (the kind most printers use), so there's less chance you'll have an extra one on hand. It supports USB 2.0 for fast transfers, but the next version should really connect to a standard iPod cable.
Hooking the HomeDock up to a stereo or a television is easy and requires only a few connections. If your stereo, television, and PC are near each other and your TV has an S-Video port, you can link the HomeDock to all three at the same time for maximum iPod connectivity. Our songs sounded great when played through the HomeDock to our stereo. Displaying pictures, videos, or slide shows on a TV was a breeze. Although the HomeDock seems to have been created before the fifth-generation iPod's release, it handles video fine, though take note that the iPod Nano can't do video out.
The infrared remote requires a line of sight to work. It has a decent range, but we occasionally had to press buttons twice to get them to register when we were across the room. An RF remote would have been a nice touch. The 12 buttons can control most iPod functions, including turning on the backlight, moving between songs and playlists, and scrubbing through songs and videos. What it can't do is move between menus, which is a shame. You'll need to get up off the couch to select a new artist. Furthermore, we'd love to use the video output to view the iPod interface, including album art, on a TV screen--that's probably Apple's problem to remedy, though. Also, you won't want to lose the remote, as the HomeDock won't power on without it, though you can still charge an iPod while the HomeDock is powered off.
iPod users do have another option closer to home: the $39 iPod Universal Dock and the $29 Apple Remote. At first glance, this solution seems more affordable, but to replicate the HomeDock's functionality, you'll probably want to spring for a USB power adapter ($29) and an A/V cable (Apple's is way too expensive).
DLO offers a 90-day limited warranty for registered HomeDocks. See the support page online for more information.