Review: Pacific Rim Technologies Shuffle Cradle
Pros: Simple iPod shuffle Dock that’s smaller than Apple’s, considerably less expensive, and includes a hidden blue LED light to indicate shuffle connection. Longer cable than Apple’s and competing shuffle docks.
Cons: Like most other shuffle docks, offers no additional functionality; just a nice USB cable and iPod shuffle table mount.
Though Apple’s iPod shuffle Dock (iLounge rating: B) benefits from both early manufacturing and distribution advantages, it took only months for other companies to release similar or better offerings at lower prices - how hard is it to make a USB cable with a plastic mount that keeps the iPod shuffle vertical? We’ve already reviewed the first wave of new shuffle docks; now a second wave is here, offering similar visual, functional, or price alternatives.
The closest product to Apple’s official Dock is Pacific Rim Technologies’ Shuffle Cradle ($10.99), a USB-cable equipped iPod shuffle stand with one serious advantage over Apple’s part: price. It has a footprint that’s smaller than Apple’s original part, albeit in a softer crescent-like shape that matches the shuffle’s curves at least as well as Apple’s rounded rectangular Dock. Pacific Rim’s cable is also more than a foot longer than Apple’s, for added extension from your computer. And yet the Shuffle Cradle costs only a little more than one-third the price, a benefit that weighs heavily in our minds.
As with Apple’s Dock and all of its followers, the Shuffle Cradle does little more than connect your iPod shuffle to a computer’s USB port - something the shuffle can do unaided unless your computer’s ports are too close together - and stand it up vertically for easier viewing. It worked without a problem in our iPod-to-iTunes synchronization and data testing. The only “big” surprise and treat is that there’s a hidden blue light on the Cradle’s top surface, centered right in front of the iPod shuffle. When you plug the Cradle in, it remains hidden, but when a shuffle is connected, it goes on. Unlike the light in JP’s/Pods Plus’ competing Charger dock, this one looks pretty good.
Apart from the extension cable and the light, the Shuffle Cradle offers no audio output, or other function that justifies its existence, but given its low price and superior-to-Apple implementation of its various features, there’s far less of an expectation of added functionality. This is as reasonably priced and attractive an iPod shuffle dock as you’re likely to find from a reputable company, so if you’re in need of this functionality, we’d highly recommend Pacific Rim’s option over Apple’s.