Price: $100, $150
Compatible: iPad 2/iPad (3rd-Gen), iPhone 3GS/4/4S, iPod nano 6G, iPod touch 4G
XtremeMac InCharge X3 + X5 Docking Stations
XtremeMac had to make a hard decision with its InCharge X3 ($100) and X5 ($150) Docking Stations -- release them as intended after their debut earlier this year, or hold them back because of Apple's nixing of the Dock Connectors they depend upon. Well, they're here: multi-unit chargers designed to charge any combination of supported iPads, iPhones, or iPods at full speed. The design is clean and straightforward, aligning the docks straight down the middle with sliding supports behind them. With the Dock Connector standard on its way out, however, X3 and X5 will soon only be useful for legacy devices; that said, they'll still be valuable for families and businesses with lots of pre-iPhone 5 Apple devices to charge.
Updated: Although we’ve stopped reviewing Dock Connector accessories, we did want to offer a few comments regarding InCharge X3 and X5. What we liked most about InCharge X3 and X5 is the sheer convenience of the solutions—each straight-line charging system is ideal for space management, though obviously a challenge if you’re trying to actually see what’s on each device’s screen at a given time. The system has either 3 or 5 small colored lights on the front to indicate charging status—blank when nothing’s connected, red when receiving power, yellowish green when fully charged—and everything works as expected. Each unit distributes its power across the five ports, apparently adjusting the output as demanded by different devices. iPads, iPhones, and iPods we tested all recharged quickly when connected, with the correct front lights going on, off, or changing colors as devices were inserted or removed. Because the Dock Connectors are elevated somewhat, they are at least partially case-compatible, though that varied somewhat.
We really hope that XtremeMac creates a Lightning version of each of these units, with similarly extended plugs so that encased devices will work. The price tags are a little too high given the simple functionality offered here, and ideally, they’d drop for the follow-up models, but we’ll have to see how much of a ransom Apple attempts to extract from developers of multi-Lightning accessories such as this one.