Sunday, 22 June 2014

Fruity Picks #5 - Multi-device Docking Station

I seem to write a lot of posts about device docks - and here’s another. Individual docks for iPhones and iPads are all well and good, but each one needs a cable and power source, and often docks are device specific. Sometimes you need something a bit more flexible and I believe I’ve now found my preferred solution (at least for now!), even though it doesn’t have a name or a manufacturer! So I’ll call it the MdDS (Multi-device Docking Station), from an unknown Chinese maker.

The MdDS is not designed as a portable device dock, but it is light enough to  put in a bag and not break your clavicle. It does take up a bit of room, but then it is designed to charge two devices simultaneously - and it has a speaker built in. Not bad for £33 (including P&P). But it gets better.

The MdDS uses a modular connection system allowing you to plug in different connectors for different devices. It comes with a straight lightning connector, an iPhone 5 connector with 3.5mm audio jack, a pair of older 30pin dock connectors and a micro USB connector for good measure. The unit feels sturdy and of decent quality, although the plug-in connectors are little bit lightweight. There are a couple of detachable tabs which lend a modicum of support to larger devices.

The MdDS comes with a proprietary USB cable with a connection to a DC 5V 2.5A socket on the device. Unfortunately I mislaid mine on the first week of my travels and could not find a replacement on-line. However, we took a trip to Maplin, taking the device with us, and the guys there let me try out a switchable mains adaptor with a variety of connections, and we found one that worked* (although it cost £20.00!). I've since relocated the USB lead, but they are clearly difficult to come by. So be warned! I'm using a standard Apple 10W iPad charger to power the unit - you need to provide this or something similar yourself.

MdDS with iPad Mini and iPhone 5 Charging

I use the Logitech Mini Boombox as my portable bluetooth speaker of choice so I’m not too fussed over the MdDS speaker which has a pair of 3W units inside. These produce a reasonably clean sound, weak on bass, but good enough if you have nothing else handy. You can toggle the input source using a switch on the top of the unit, or you can turn the speaker off completely.

Regardless of whether I’m at home or away, I want to be able to charge my iPad mini and iPhone overnight. This allows me to do exactly that - and only use a single power socket. I’ve bought two of them so I have a home and away solution.

* Switched Mode AC DC Adaptor for General Use (L06BR)

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