Charge and Listen
One of the paradoxes of the digital classroom is that it’s generally easier to get items into a tablet or phone than it is to get them out for the entire class to hear. Easy Dok’s CR34 can help with the ability to deliver anything that’s on a smartphone, digital music player or tablet.
The black plastic CR34 looks like a digital clock radio with large blue numerals that can be seen across the room. But, in the back it has a hidden secret: several USB power outlets. With the included physical adapters, it can fit just about any phone, slate or music player vertically or horizontally.
Behind a hinged back door the CR34 has six USB power outlets that allow it to charge a classroom full of devices at once. If that’s too many, the company also makes similar systems with three or four USB outlets.
Based on Smart Current Detection technology, the CR34 interrogates the device to determine how much juice it requires and then delivers it. There are two outlets marked in red for high-power devices, like iPads, that require extra current. The outlets have the added safety of a built-in surge protector. But, unlike the latest USB chargers the CR34 doesn’t turn its outlets off after a set period or when the battery is charged to cut a school’s power bills.
While docks designed for specific devices allow you to just slide the tablet or phone directly into a connector, the CR34 requires a separate connection for power and audio. While plugging the audio cable into a phone or tablet is not difficult, using Bluetooth to deliver the audio portion might have made the connections a little simpler.
All these cables lead to a warren of wires, which can be hidden by the device’s large bay in the back. The compartment has two cutouts where cables can be routed out of the case for charging extra devices. I was able to charge six individual items – from tablets and phones to a mobile hotspot – with the CR34.
The system doesn’t include any USB cables, but comes with an audio jumper cable for plugging into the device that’s supplying the audio. The company sells several specialty adapters for popular devices for $10 each.
After a 5-minute setup that involves setting the time and attaching the various adapters, the CR34 is ready for the classroom. On top of working with tablets and phones, the CR34 has an FM radio that was able to bring in a good variety of local stations, which can be used for playing everything from a local news report to National Public Radio special shows.
The clock itself is good addition to any classroom with large and bright blue numerals, although, the display’s lighting is uneven with numbers on the right brighter than those on the left. Plus, the radio’s clock can’t be synchronized with the iPad’s internal clock.
With a first-generation iPad or Android tablet, the CR34 worked well at playing YouTube videos, Tunein Internet radio and a variety of online items. There’s a tiny remote control to turn the unit on and off, tune the FM radio and adjust the volume. It, however, lacks a mute button and can’t start or stop material playing on the slate.
Overall, the CR34’s audio is much better than what the typical phone or slate produces, but it is a little flat sounding. The device does have four different equalization settings, but all lack the punch of solid midrange audio that can make everything from music to spoken programming sound more natural.
Still, Dok’s CR34 is the easiest way to get audio out of a phone or slate and into the classroom.
+ Easy set up
+ Works with just about any smart phone, tablet or digital music player
+ 6 USB power outlets
+ FM radio
+ Remote control
- No Bluetooth
- Wires can be awkward