Although I don’t understand why Apple doesn’t make docks for its line of iPads, I’m glad that third-party options are available. The latest dock to hit my radar is from DealExtreme, which I found through the Pocketables blog. The dock is a simple way to charge and sync an iPad mini thanks to the integrated Lightning connector that uses your own iPad mini USB cable. The most appealing aspect may be the price: This dock is just $10.60 with free shipping.
Originally, I was leery of the dock at that price. After all, who wants to damage their several hundred dollar iPad mini investment for a ten-buck accessory? But after reading the review at Pocketables, I’m not concerned. The dock itself is really just a pass-through and doesn’t have any power components of its own:
This is a fully passive dock, meaning it doesn’t require an authentication chip or anything like that, because all it does is extend the device’s Lightning connector to the back of the dock. It’s a simple extension cable, really, but it’s still possible to screw that up with bad soldering points. In this case though, I liked what I saw, and everything was like it should be with the connections.
The dock only comes in black and the way it’s designed, it can’t hold an iPad mini that has a case; there’s just not enough room. One other thing to keep in mind: You’ll need to hold down the dock when removing your iPad mini because of the connector design.
Despite those small shortcomings, I plan to order one of these and see for myself how it works. I generally have the iPad mini next to me on my desk while working and it would be nice to have it propped up in portrait mode while charging; something I can’t do with Apple’s Smart Cover.