Bluetooth connection is maybe the best known wireless connection in the world just behind Wi-Fi and it has a wide range of applications from wireless mouse’s and keyboard to wireless music streaming. Bluetooth technology was first designed as a wireless network and has only lately been adapted to all those other uses so there are various standards and codex’s (Compression – Decompression algorithms). Bluetooth Audio streaming is done trough A2DP (Advanced Audio Distribution Profile) stereo pipeline that is designed to stream music in one way from the transmitter to the receiver device but because it uses this Bluetooth connection there is not that much room (bandwidth) where you can stream your music files. And that is why newer Bluetooth music streaming devices and receivers use technologies such as AptX that is an audio codec or a compression algorithm that uses various sound compression and decompression techniques to stream music in a CD quality from a Bluetooth device. AptX requires both the receiver and the transmitter to have this codec installed in their firmware to work properly and most devices that use it have a AptX sticker on them signifying their authenticity. Most modern android docking stations use exactly this AptX compression algorithm as it provides the best sound quality as well as a stable connection and brand recognition.
3.5 mm audio TRS connector (Phone jack)
The 3.5mm Phone connector or jack is a well known and universal connection type for any device and it is also a standard on all modern mobile phones giving us the ability to connect our headphones and a microphone to our Smart-phones. These TRS (Tip Ring Sleeve) connectors are common among many devices and they are the default audio connectors that transmit clear and powerful sound just as it was created from your devices sound card without any compressions or distortions. This means that Android dockings stations that use their ports can support a wide range of devices from SmartPhones to Mp3 players as well as our laptops and tablets. As I mentioned before there are no codex or compression algorithms so the sound quality is directly linked by the quality that your devices sound card makes this sound and that depends on many aspects from the manufacturer to the channel count. But the biggest difference is from the loudspeakers themselves and by plugging in a 3.5mm TRRS (Tip Ring Ring Sleeve) or TRS connector you can directly test the quality of any Android docking stations speakers as no wireless transfer connection type can match the quality and stability of this physical connection.
NFC (Near field communication)
NFC is relatively new technology that just now is becoming more popular and used in many new smartphones and different electronic devices. We can also see new NFC supported Android docking stations and Bluetooth speakers coming out from largest consumer electronics manufacturers like Samsung, Sony and Philips. As these companies are also making smartphones that has got NFC chips inside, it is obvious, that their mobile accessories are also supporting NFC technology. NFC is fast and simple wireless communication standard that allows NFC enabled devices to communicate with each other in a short range (approx. 1 inch). What makes NFC a great advantage for android docking station is the fast and simple way it allows to connect android docking station with android smartphone. Of course, NFC will not stream audio from smartphone to docking station, but it is able to establish a Bluetooth connection between mobile phone and docking station instantly. Pairing and establishing Bluetooth connection with android docking station and smartphone using Bluetooth standard may take quite a long time, but NFC allows pairing both devices fast and simple, with one tap on your smartphone. This is why NFC enabled Bluetooth speakers and android docking station are becoming more and more popular, and we will certainly see more of these devices in the future.
Wi-Fi is well known technology that allows connection between different Wi-Fi supporting devices and connection to internet using microwaves. Wi-Fi is often called wireless connection. Wi-Fi is mainly used to connect our computers and mobile devices to the internet via router. Wi-Fi can also be used to connect one device to other wirelessly using a router. And we can see Wi-Fi technology in some high end android docking stations as well. Wi-Fi is different from Bluetooth as it has much longer cover range. Wi-Fi range is well over 100 feet, while Bluetooth range is only about 30 feet. You can use android docking stations with Wi-Fi, while being in another room in the house and still be able to stream sound from your android smartphone to the android docking station without any loses in quality. This would not be possible with a Bluetooth connection. To connect your smartphone to docking station with Wi-Fi you will need a router and internet connection. To get the furthest range between smartphone and speaker dock, router must be placed in the middle of both devices. To operate Wi-Fi android docking station you will usually need some kind of application on your mobile device or computer. Different docking station manufacturers provide different software for their devices. For example, Samsung uses its AllShare Play application for connecting Android mobile devices to Wi-Fi supported Samsung android docking stations, and AirPlay application to connect Apple mobile devices to Samsung docking stations.