Price: $30/€30, $9/€9
Compatible: iPod nano
SwitchEasy KuroDock and KuroDock Power Adapter for iPod nano
If you want a simple audio- and data-ready dock for your black iPod nano, SwitchEasy's KuroDock ($30) is our current top pick. Touted as "the most attractive docking solution for black iPod nano," KuroDock - Kuro is Japanese for "black" - lives up to its billing, featuring a bright white light bar that glows when connected to wall or USB power, and a Dock Connector well sized solely for the iPod nano family. Unlike Apple's comparable iPod nano Dock (iLounge rating: B), SwitchEasy includes a USB cable for synchronization with a computer, and though it sells a KuroDock-specific Power Adapter separately ($9), that price is still $20 less than you'd pay to buy Apple's USB Power Adapter, and SwitchEasy's Adapter is much smaller than Apple's. In other words, this is a smarter and better-looking purchase overall.
Our favorite features of KuroDock are simple: SwitchEasy has preserved the small footprint of Apple’s Dock while adding a really nice white light, which enhances the original Dock’s cool factor and even helps it match white iPod nanos - this isn’t solely good for black nano hardware. However, there are two small issues with the light - first, though SwitchEasy says that it’s supposed to be interrupted by a red blinking light to indicate that data is being transferred, the red coloration is washed out to the point of truly bare visibility. Data transfers worked just fine in our tests, but you won’t see much evidence of them on the dock’s face. Second, there’s no way to turn the light off, which makes the design less than ideal for those who don’t want a bright light staring at them whenever the dock’s connected to a power source.
USB cable aside, don’t expect other frills in the box. As with Apple’s Dock, you’ll need to supply your own audio cable to connect to KuroDock’s fixed-level line-out port, which lets you pump nano audio to a stereo system, and delivers the expectedly high level of output quality. And just like the Apple Dock, there’s no remote control pack-in or option - because the nano’s only ports are on its bottom, plugging in to KuroDock similarly forces you to give up remote options altogether. Apple forces you to upgrade to a more expensive Universal Dock and buy its remote separately if you want this ability, but SwitchEasy doesn’t yet have such an alternative. In all honesty, we hope that SwitchEasy takes up this challenge with a remote-ready black dock - KuroDock proves that it can compete on style with the big boys; now it just needs to step up its electronic expertise to match.