Review: Samsung DA-E670 audio with dock
Samsung says its DA-E670 Wireless Audio with Dock is the world's first dual-docking station supporting Apple (iPhone, iPod, iPad) and Samsung (S II, S III, Note and Player) devices. While the station delivers excellent sound quality and a multitude of connectivity options, I feel it's a bit overpriced, considering its limitations.
Look and feel
The DA-E670 is not the prettiest dock I've seen, and it's quite heavy (4.2kg) and chunky. The design is very simple, which makes it appealing nonetheless - a plain black rectangle with two speakers in the front that sport silver finishes. The top panel, which features the navigation keys, lies flush with the top surface of the dock, so there's no awkward buttons or knobs protruding from the device. The black casing is sleek and shiny, but this means it attracts fingerprints, so you're likely to be polishing away with the cloth provided more than you bargained for.
The dual dock is tucked neatly at the back of the device and pops open stealthily when pressed to reveal a five- and a 30-pin dock.
At the back, you'll also find a LAN terminal, a DC adaptor connection, a USB port, a reset button for WiFi and an AUX in connection.
The control panel is positioned at the top of the device. From here, users can toggle volume, switch between functions (TV, smartphone, Bluetooth, wireless, LAN, wired network, external device, USB).
What's in the box?
The Samsung DA-E670 dock comes with a basic remote control (operational within seven metres from the device, even at a slight angle), a DC adaptor, a power cable, an audio cable, a spacer cover/protection cover (for use with smartphones that do not have protective cases), a ferrite core, a LAN cable, and a special cloth to clean the device.
Getting started / usability
The Samsung DA-E670 dock is very simple to use. Getting started is a matter of finding the nearest plug point, turning the device on, selecting the desired function/connection mode, and pushing 'play'.
The fun part comes in when deciding whether to connect the device straight to your Apple or Galaxy device, to a wireless network, a Bluetooth network, a LAN network or to an external device via the AUX mode.
I tested the dock with an iPhone, and connection simply involved opening the dock, pushing the 'function' button until the smartphone icon appeared, and attaching the iPhone to the 30-pin connector (a five-pin connector accommodates Samsung Galaxy devices). However, one cannot use an iPhone and a Samsung Galaxy with the device at the same time.
The positioning of the dock is a bit awkward, however. While you can operate the device using the remote control, you still need to navigate to your music on your phone, and this is a bit tricky as the device gets in the way. I recommended finding your music before attaching your iPhone to avoid finicky frustration.
The sound dips when the phone receives an incoming message or phone call, returning to normal pretty quickly afterwards, so the disruptions are not annoying.
A bonus is that the device charges your smartphone or tablet when plugged in.
Samsung notes that Galaxy users will need to download the Samsung Wireless Audio with Dock App in order to play music from the device. The app boasts a range of additional features, such as the ability to check battery level, the time, weather updates and current temperature. Samsung says the app can also remember where your music stopped playing after being disconnected for a phone call, and will then play from the same spot when reconnected. Samsung notes, however, that certain Android devices will not be able to use the app "due to firmware compatibility issues".
The device also supports other external devices through Bluetooth 3.0 technology and the AUX in connection, which fits into the earphones jack of external devices, including CD/DVD players, karaoke machines, MP3 players, etc.
Samsung has made wireless listening simple with the DA-E670's AllShare Play and AirPlay capabilities. Users can sync and play music with ease. However, I battled terribly to connect the device to my wireless network, only to find out that it does not support network speeds equal to or below 10Mbps.
The SoundShare function allows the device to be connected to a TV via Bluetooth; however, neither of my TVs are Bluetooth-enabled, so I was unable to test this. I imagine the viewing experience would be awesome, judging by the music sound quality delivered by the DA-E670.
Playing music from a USB device is hassle-free. Users simply insert the memory stick into the USB 2.0 slot, select the corresponding function and push play.
I was a bit disappointed that there was no digital display showing the name of the artist and song title. While this obviously isn't an issue when playing music from a smartphone or tablet, as this information will be visible on the these devices, it becomes a guessing game when playing music from USB. There is also no counter showing which song number you're on, and the device does not remember where you left off, playing the first song on the USB if you switch the device off and on again. This forces you to sift through all the songs you've already listened to, to try and find where you left off.
You also can't fast forward songs.
The DA-E670 plays MP3, WAV and WMA audio files.
The Samsung DA-E670 really comes into its own in terms of sound quality, which is superb. The glass fibre speakers and built-in subwoofer produce crystal-clear sound that does not distort, even when you blast the music. As much as I wanted to give the neighbour's kid a taste of his own medicine, I didn't push the device to its max volume, as I chickened out when my eardrums started protesting; but it gets loud. Very loud.
While sound doesn't distort, the louder the volume, the more items on the same surface as the device vibrate, so make sure you place it on a surface by itself, or that all other items surrounding it are sturdy.
Another flaw (perhaps personal preference) is that the only sound settings users can adjust is the base - they can either turn it on or off. That's it. No option to play with the treble or any other sound settings. That being said, there is a marked difference between playing music with bass on and off; I guess it depends on the genre of music you're listening to.
Speaking of genres, the DA-E670 blasted out all sorts of different artists with ease, from Biffy Clyro to Marilyn Manson; Chris Isaak to Jack Johnson. The sound quality was perfect every time.
For its price (recommended retail R4 999), the Samsung DA-E670 should, in my opinion, come with all the bells and whistles. For R2 000, you can get a docking station that has similar specs but includes additional functionality, such as CD and DVD playback, a built-in rechargeable battery for mobile use, USB recording, FM tuner and a digital clock; none of these are included with the DA-E670. That means you could buy one Apple docking station and one Galaxy docking station, have a ton more features, and spare change.
While the dual-docking functionality is its major selling point (provided you have both Samsung and Apple devices, which I don't), I don't feel it's worth the hefty price tag. To justify that price, the docking station should do all of the above and more, like make coffee in the morning. For me, it just didn't have that 'wow factor'.
In a nutshell
The Samsung DA-E670 produces excellent sound quality and its wireless music playing capability and multitude of connectivity options will appeal to some; however, at its price point, I think it's out of the affordability range for many.