Company: Pressure Drop
Compatible: iPod shuffle
Pressure Drop DecoDock for iPod shuffle
Pros: A uniquely designed iPod shuffle dock, solidly constructed with an art deco motif and white LED pillars on the shuffle’s sides. Nice selection of colors.
Cons: Light pillars can’t be switched off unless computer’s off; not as attractive a proposition on price or features as certain other options that are currently available.
In concept, it’s easy to build an iPod shuffle dock: take a standard USB 2.0 cable, attach it to a piece of plastic or metal that holds the iPod shuffle, and you’re generally ready to roll. But to make a successful product, you’ll also need something that looks good and doesn’t cost too much - Apple’s $29 price tag for the official iPod shuffle Dock (iLounge rating: B) is currently about as much as the shuffle market is willing to bear.
Overall, Pressure Drop’s DecoDock ($28.99) is a pretty smart alternative to the offerings currently on the market. Each DecoDock consists of a curved metal base made in your choice of six colors (silver, white, blue, pink, black, or green), a plastic USB port housing that’s always black from version to version, and two art deco-style transparent plastic pillars that stand on each side of the top USB port. A black USB cable comes with each DecoDock, plugging in to the unit’s back and your computer’s USB port. Pressure Drop’s logo sits in a subtle gray tone on the Dock’s black front face, while a small black peg at the top rear serves as an “integrated cap holder” for your iPod shuffle’s standard USB cap.
The major design benefits of the DecoDock are two in number. When you plug an iPod shuffle in to the unit’s top, the combination of iPod and DecoDock becomes skyscraperesque in a visual throwback to architecture of the 1920s and 1930s. It’s an original design regardless of whether you like the style - as we do - and the various colored bases look nice, as well. We’ve tested the blue and silver versions depicted in these photographs, and they both use quality metal paint rather than something cheaper and less attractive.
When the Dock’s plugged in to a powered USB port, the two transparent pillars illuminate with a nice white light. This is a particularly cool touch with only one negative consequence: there’s no way to turn the light off unless power isn’t running through your USB ports. If your machine keeps power flowing when it’s in sleep mode, the DecoDock’s light will remain turned on unless you unplug it - a problem that many light-up USB products avoid with a simple on-off switch. Mac owners in particular will find this an annoyance; PC owners and those unaccustomed to leaving their computers turned on may not mind at all.
Predictably, the DecoDock worked perfectly as an iPod shuffle docking station, but unless you plan to use the single USB port for another device instead, that’s all it does - just like Apple’s official Dock, which is smaller and lighter. Belkin’s recent Hi-Speed USB 2.0 4-Port Hub for iPod shuffle (iLounge rating: B+) offers more utility and versatility for the same price, while Thought Out’s similarly decorative and functionally limited iPed Shuffle Dock (iLounge rating: B+) is sold for a considerably lower price.
Our feeling about DecoDock is therefore a lot like our old “happy” rating: it’s a good product that feels well-made and generally well thought-out, but has a few issues that prevent it from being a true breakthrough. A light switch, a lower price, and/or added functionality - say, multicolored changing LEDs? - would have made this a brilliant new offering. As-is, it’ll appeal to a good number of people as a solid visual competitor to Apple’s official shuffle Dock, if not the more recent alternatives noted above.