When Disney’s Tron Legacy was announced, it meant two things. Devoted Tron geeks would get to see their favorite cult film rebooted. The other, since Disney was involved, meant that there’d be some serious merchandising…lots and lots of MERCHANDISING. Some of it has been toys of rather meek quality, others like the Oakley glasses or high-end replica suits meant you needed a rather large credit card limit to purchase them. However the most impressive merchandising effort has been the partnership of Monster and Disney. Together they have rolled out some impressive wares ranging from headphones to power stations to docks. In particular, the Tron Light Disc Audio Dock from Monster is like no other iPod dock you have ever seen. It will make your pad look futuristic while also filling it with music.
To say I was impressed with the packaging is an understatement. The box has Tron emblazoned all over it in the iconic blue and black Tron Legacy colors. When you open the box you are greeted with “TRON – Welcome to the grid” on a piece of cardboard. Beneath that are several iPhone/iPod cradles that support current and past generations of the iPod Nano, iPod Touch, and iPod Classic, iPod with video, and all generations of the iPhone. There is also a remote included, and of-course an AC Adapter.
The Tron Light Disc Dock is designed to look like it escaped from the movie. The light disc is an essential prop in the movie and therefore the basis of the design of this dock. It is super futuristic and visually pleasing when it starts to glow and pulsate. The dock itself is not overwhelming in size and beyond the blueish hues, the dock sports a piano black finish that allows it to fit in nicely in a bedroom or dorm. However in a more traditional decor this is a one dock that may stick out like a sore thumb. The dock portion of the light disc is smack in the middle of the device, it’s a tight fit for your iPhone or iPod, but you should still be able to dock your device even if it’s wearing a thin case. The main controls of the dock are also located right on the front and consist of volume down, Play/Pause, Volume Up, Play Previous Track, Playlist/Clock Visualizer App, and Play Next Track/Scan. These controls light up when pressed.
The back of the dock has a capacitive touch area which is used to dim the light disc’s intensity by just gently tapping on it. You will be able to adjust the lighting of the dock to high, medium, low, or off. Also back there you will find a 3.5 mm headphone port that lets you connect any other external audio device to the dock. On the bottom of the dock you will find a switch that lets you switch the dock to Auto, On or Off. Place the switch in the Auto position and it puts the light disc on standby until you dock a iPhone or iPod in it. Switch the button to on and the light disc will stay lit no matter if a iPhone/iPod is docked or not. Switch it to off and the light disc goes off.
What brings the Tron Light Disc Dock to life is the Tron App which is available for free from the App store. However this is probably the biggest disappointment of the package. When I docked my iPhone into the dock it told me that I needed the app in order for the dock to work. I had to search for it and on top of that there are two Tron Apps. One that is available for free the other that costs money. So I had to be careful to choose the right one. In addition, the app is a bit large, so it requires you to be connected to WiFi in order to download it. So the first mistake I did was attempt to download the app out of the dock. When I loaded it up the first time, the visualization portion of the app was not unlocked and hence the app could not yet bring my dock to life. So I had to uninstall and then download the app again while having it docked in the Tron Light Disc Dock. Talk about wonky. Once it was completed the visualization app appeared along with the other features in the free Tron app.
The visualization App does just that. It makes the Tron Light Disc Audio Dock visually stunning by enabling it to pulse to the rhythm of the music that comes out of the dock. Without the app, the dock is certainly funky but the lighting stays static whereas with the app it produces so much more visually. Another downside of the app is that it doesn’t go from landscape to portrait when you are in the main menu screen. So you will have to turn your head to the side to scroll through the menu features before you get to the visualization portion of the App. Once you load it though, the app becomes portrait and displays all your songs in the playlist. You can control the app from the dock or with the remote. When you get your song going and want to unleash the magic of the Tron Light Disc Dock all you need to do is choose the clock mode (odd I know) and suddenly the light disc will start to pulse and move to the music, getting dimmer and brighter as the music plays on. Aesthetically the App meets all the Tron criteria, but functionally it is lousy. Why do I have to switch to clock in order for the light show to begin? It would have been nice for it to work when the playlist or cover art is displayed too. Lastly, every time I turn the dock on, it still insists I need software even though its already installed. Weird.
Some would call the Tron Light Disc Dock kitschy, after all it was made because of a movie, shaped as a prop, and it provides you with a light show. However this is no toy and the music quality that comes out of it is very impressive. Certainly this is no Beatbox but it still costs a pretty penny for what it is and luckily the sound reproduction matches its looks. This is because it has 1.5″ stereo high-throw drivers and a 3.5″ long throw woofer. Music sounds balanced and rich, neither bass or treble is overwhelming, nor does it sound like a cheap alarm clock radio. You’ll not only enjoy looking at this thing but listening to it too. The volume goes pretty high and even on its highest levels, there was no noise or feedback on any of the music. Tunes from Katy Perry were impressive, while Deadmau5, rock god Zeppelin, and Diddy all performed well on the dock too. Even at its lowest volume, the Tron Light Disc Audio Dock left all music sounding balanced and fluid. There was no tinniness and the dock fills a room with sound from all areas.
The Tron Light Disc Dock doesn’t disappoint. It may seem like a toy but it has very real grown-up price of $299.95. This may be overpriced for your average dock, but for what it is, this is a must have for any serious Tron fan or anyone looking for a different kind of dock. The light show that is put on for you and the sound quality alone make it a worthwhile investment. The remote is even designed to match the Tron motif. It’s too bad though that the light discs don’t change to different colors such as yellow or orange, like the other colored light discs in the movie. It would have also been nice to have a dedicated App for the dock that was less glitchy and more intuitive than the one currently available. We can only hope that software updates will improve this. All in all, this collaboration between Disney and Monster doesn’t disappoint. Just turn off the lights and join the grid. The Tron Light Disc from Monster retails for $299.95.
The Good: Super unique design captures the essence of Tron. Made well and gives you a terrific light show in the dark. Works with many generations of the iPod and iPhone. Excellent sound quality.
The Bad: App is glitchy. Would have liked more color visualizations and patterns on the Light Disc. Mini-to mini stereo cable is not included. Doesn’t exactly fit into everyone’s decor. Pricey. AC adapter is very large and will kill several outlets on a surge protector.