Friday, 15 February 2013

A Lightning Review of Lightning Docks

In my last post before Christmas I mentioned all the goodies I added to the Apple Harvest inventory over the past 6 months, and I promised to write about some of them but it's really hard to know where to start. The new iMac 27inch is purring away upstairs in the office (I'm writing this on the MacBook Air while watching the tele with one eye!) but that started as a horror story so I'll save that for another day. So I'm going to start with something a bit less exotic, but nevertheless essential in a busy office environment - namely docks…

Both the iPad mini and the iPhone 5 sport the new Apple Lightning connector. A lot of people have been very angry about Apple's decision to dump the old 30pin connector that has been around for the last 5 or so years since the introduction of the 3rd generation iPod. Whilst I have a number of accessories that do use the 30pin dock as standard I'm not going to lose any sleep over the change. Now I have a mixture of iOS devices that use Lightning and 30pin connections I bought a few (Apple and 3rd party) adaptors that get me through the day. And on the positive side, I like the fact that the Lightning connector is 'reversible' meaning it doesn't matter which way round you attach it to the device.

The downside has been that manufacturers seem to have been really slow on the uptake to provide Lightning specific accessories - at least, ones that are available in the UK. I particularly wanted Lightning docks for charging and potentially syncing both the iPad Mini and iPhone 5.  Syncing is less of an issue these days with iOS offering wireless syncing. I absolutely didn't want docks that weren't oriented to both devices, and I didn't want to have to be constantly taking off cases and putting them back on again. Happily I've found two excellent docks meeting my specifications. The first is from Belkin and the second from Sinjimoru. Both docks are striking in their design as you can see from the photos below.

Belkin Lightning Dock
        Sinjimoru Lighning Dock

The Sinjimoru dock can be configured for either the old 30 pin connector or Lightning but offers no other features. The Bekin is purely a Lightning dock but also has an AUX port at the back and connect to the headphone socket of the iPhone 5 via an ingenious fold down jack plug. It's because the plug can be folded into the stand that enables it to double up as an iPad mini dock. Check out the video to see this in action. Both docks can handle cases on the devices, although it can be a bit of a tight squeeze with the Sinjimoru.

The Belkin comes in at £24.99 (it's much more expensive on Amazon - £37.90!) while the Sinjimoru is a little cheaper at £19.95 and is available in black or white. On the Belkin UK site it says that the dock is currently available for pre-order but in fact it shipped the same day I put the order in. It is available from other UK distributors if there are problems sourcing it directly.

Ultimately the Belkin is probably the more flexible device given the additional features and its slightly better ability to handle an iPad mini in a case, but only if you need this and can get the dock at the right price. The Apple Harvest homestead is configured with Sinjimoru docks in the bedroom and office whilst the Belkin lives downstairs in the living room.

There, at last. First post of 2013 completed and posted. See you next time!

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