Compatible: iPod 5G, classic, nano, touch, iPhone/3G
Konnet iCrado + ReflexDock
For a time, the differences between iPod "docks" and "stands" began to blur as the number of docks -- electronics-equipped desk mounts -- increased, and electronics-free stands decreased. But since the release of the iPhone and Apple's lockdown on both iPod and iPhone video-out functionality, we've seen a steady rise in the number of stands and a decrease in docks. Konnet's new iCrado ($35) and ReflexDock ($40) essentially give users the choice of whether to prefer one type of desk mount or the other.
iCrado arrives as nothing but a stand, specifically a vertical one that’s made from black or silver metal, and dependent on you to insert your iPhone’s or iPod’s included USB-to-Dock Connector cable into a hole in the base. The hole accommodates official Apple cables of the most recent variety—the stubby little Dock Connector ones—using a plastic insert that holds such cables in place, as well as larger, prior-generation versions without the insert. Once either type of cable is in place, you can place your iPod or iPhone upright in iCrado, then charge and/or synchronize it to your computer. It looks nice enough, but that’s pretty much it for features. Rubber pads in the metal prevent the iPod or iPhone from rubbing against the back surface.
By comparison, ReflexDock is both an audio-out and synchronization dock, offsetting its inclusion of electronic components by using less expensive materials. Unlike the metal iCrado, ReflexDock is made from white or black plastic, and includes both its own integrated male Dock Connector within the docking surface, plus a silver rear housing that contains a female Dock Connector port and a line-out port for audio. You need to provide both a Dock Connector-equipped cable to connect to the dock, and the audio cable.
Notably, ReflexDock won’t work with every cable—connect it to a current-generation Apple video cable, for instance, and it will pass through power but not video—but for synchronization and charging, it’s fine. The line-out audio port also works exactly as expected, performing loud, clear audio from the Dock Connector output of the iPod or iPhone rather than its headphone port.
Given that they both feature similarly attractive, modern designs, the only major issue shared by both iCrado and ReflexDock is that they’re clearly designed solely for vertical device mounting, which makes them more universally appealing to users of iPod classics and pre-2008 iPod nanos than for owners other iPods and iPhones. Unlike some of the other third-party stands we’ve tested, they offer no support for accelerometer-assisted widescreen-orientation video viewing or the like, and unlike some docks, they don’t provide a way to get video out, either. In our view, similar dollars for iCrado could be better spent by iPod touch and iPhone users on more versatile rotating stands, and while ReflexDock’s $40 asking price isn’t offensive, some users may find its incomplete pass-through functionality to be a disappointment. Still, for iPod classic owners and certain iPod nano users, both of these products are good and worthy of our general recommendation; we’d like to see more sophisticated versions in the near future.