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Terrific Viewing Stand, Less Than Superb Sound, Awkward Footprint
on August 6, 2012
As a viewing stand, the GRACE DIGITAL MATCHSTICK DOCK is terrific. It holds the Kindle Fire a few inches above your desktop or tabletop at an ideal vertical or horizontal viewing angle. With slight pressure, the holder turns from vertical to horizontal and settles firmly into position, so that the Fire stays put.
As a speaker dock, the MatchStick is pretty good. With the Fire volume set to maximum, the MatchStick delivers sound that is perfectly satisfactory for a non-audiophile like myself. You get sound that is similar to what you get with the AmazonBasics Portable Stereo System, but a little fuller, with more maximum volume.
However, the MatchStick is not perfect.
ON/OFF SWITCH (KINDLE FIRE): When the Fire is in the holder, you turn it on or off with a button located underneath the dock. In one of the two horizontal positions (with the dock to the right), the button on my device doesn't work properly unless the Fire is pushed firmly against the dock again, or unless the button is held down hard (which usually triggers the "do you want to turn your Kindle Fire off?" query that comes up before you do a full reboot).
ON/OFF SWITCH (MATCHSTICK DOCK): To play music, you must turn the Matchstick on with a button located in the top panel above the right speaker. When the Matchstick is turned on, it automatically charges your Kindle Fire. When your Fire is fully charged, there is no way to turn off the charger. If you wish to listen to music, the charger continues to charge continuously while the speakers play. (The MatchStick dock has an upright plug that connects with the charger outlet on the bottom of the Fire.)
TREBLE/BASS BUTTONS (REMOTE): As I said previously, I'm not an audiophile. However, I noticed very little difference when I pressed the + and - buttons for the treble and bass adjustments (on the remote), or even when I pressed the Equalizer button to reset the sound.
VOLUME (MATCHSTICK DOCK, REMOTE): To me, the up/down volume buttons on both the MatchStick top panel and the remote seem sluggish. Holding them down will adjust the volume, though. To get the maximum volume from the MatchStick speakers, you must first set the Fire volume to maximum. (The dock has an upright plug that connects with the Fire's earphone jack when you slide the Fire into the holder).
TEMPERATURE (KINDLE FIRE): When I'm using the MatchStick to play music, my Fire runs at a higher temperature than when I play music with the Fire alone or with the Amazon Basics external, battery-powered speakers. (All of my music comes from a wireless connection with the Amazon Cloud--no music is on the Fire itself.) I don't usually play music for extended periods, but for testing purposes, I played music on the MatchStick for several hours. My Fire, which started around 65 percent at 73 degrees, was fully charged after 15 minutes or so, and the temperature was around 92 degrees (as measured by the excellent Badass Battery Monitor (Kindle Fire Edition) (a free Android version of this app also works with the Fire). After about an hour, there was a music skip, then there were occasional, more frequent skips. Replaying indicated that the skips were not in the music recordings. After three hours of mostly playing music with the display off, the Fire temperature was at 94 degrees. When the music developed a bit of static, I decided to end the test. Playing music with the display off on the Fire alone (plugged in to the USB charger with an outlet adaptor--not the Fire charger), or on the Amazon Basics speakers (noncharging) resulted in temperatures in the high 80s or below. (The Matchstick uses an electrical adaptor like the Fire charger--one with a big black box at the outlet end).
FOOTPRINT (MATCHSTICK DOCK): This is strictly personal, but the MatchStick footprint is too large for my available tabletop/desktop space. The MatchStick measures 4" high by 13" wide, so that leaving the unit out with the Fire docked has the effect of converting my mobile device into a permanent, immobile installation. The Fire slides smoothly in and out of the dock, but I don't have space in my small condo to leave the dock out permanently, given that it lacks superb sound quality.
I like the MatchStick dock, but because of its various drawbacks, I won't be using it regularly. For this reason, I rate it at 3 stars ("it's okay" on the official Amazon scale).
This review is based on a product supplied to me by the manufacturer free of charge for review purposes. I have no financial interest, or business relationship with the manufacturer, and this review represents my independent opinion of the product.