Review: Bluelounge MiniDock (With Lightning Connector)
Two years ago, Bluelounge released MiniDock, a $20 plastic accessory that transformed Apple's 5W USB Power Adapter into a charging dock for Dock Connector iPhones or iPods. Now there's a new version with the same MiniDock name ($40), instead featuring a Lightning connector that flexes just a little to accommodate the iPhone 5, iPod touch 5G, and iPod nano 7G. It comes packed with two different spacers, one of which is designed to accommodate bare iPhones, while the other's made to fit iPhone 5s in cases. Just like its predecessor, it's a genuinely cool concept, though its appeal will depend on where your home or office wall outlets are located.
Coated in soft touch plastic, MiniDock now comes in black, instead of the white and grey combination in which it previously shipped. It’s an elegant and palmable design. The back end houses a USB plug, made to connect with the 5W USB Power Adapters included with iPhones—Bluelounge pitches it as a way to “keep your device off the floor,” nothing more. It provides a relatively compact alternative to longer cables, plus the ability to keep your device’s screen upright. And it interestingly can connect to a computer for iTunes synchronization in the event that you don’t want to plug it into a wall adapter.
Once you’ve plugged MiniDock in, you can insert one of the two adhesive rubber backings, depending on whether or not you’re using a case. They’re not absolutely necessary, but do provide added support while alleviating strain on the Lightning connector. Like every other Lightning-equipped accessory we’ve seen, it’s not truly case-compatible: if you’re using a very thin case with an open bottom—almost always a shell—then yes, it’ll fit, but anything more substantial is sadly not going to work atop the plug.
Functionally, MiniDock is a neat accessory, and at the $20 price point of its predecessor, it would be worth recommending. At $40 though, the value proposition here is nuts. At its size, it doesn’t physically feel like it’s worth the cost, and it neither doubles the value of a standard Lightning cable—especially if you’re using a case—nor of the original MiniDock, which does exactly the same thing for half the price. While we do like it, it’s hard to justify spending that kind of money on something so simple, and that’s why MiniDock earns our limited recommendation.