Review: Thought Out iPed Shuffle Dock
Pros: A generally attractive metal iPod shuffle stand with an included cable, priced much more attracitvely than Apple’s alternative.
Cons Cable isn’t a good color match for stand or shuffle, ragged edges at top could use additional polish.
When reviewing iPod docks and stands, we generally look at three main things: does the stand look good; does it provide some sort of excellent functionality; and is it priced reasonably? Thought Out’s two previous iPod stands have been interesting examples in that one was a slightly better than average metal mount for your iPod (iPed, iLounge rating: B-), while the other was a highly adjustable and more attractive mount that could be used with all sorts of different iPods, cases, and other accessories (iPed 2, iLounge rating: A-).
Now Thought Out has released iPed shuffle ($17.99), a stand that combines certain features from those two predecessors. it’s unadjustable and made from one piece of metal like the original iPed, but more attractively designed and useful, like the iPed 2. It’s also less expensive than both of its predecessors, Apple’s official Dock, and all of its current competitors, and therefore a relatively good value for consumers. It bears brief mention that none of the iPod shuffle docks currently sold does anything other than connect your shuffle to a computer for data transfers - which most people can do without a dock - so don’t expect line-out style audio output as with full-sized and mini iPod docks.
iPed shuffle consists of two parts - a metal stand shaped generally to match the curves of Apple’s aluminum display mounts, and a non-detachable USB cable that connects to your iPod shuffle and computer. It’s the cable that scores an extra practicality point for the new iPed; its predecessors still required you to use an separate cable, which of course comes with all iPods but doesn’t come with most of their official Docks. The exception was the iPod shuffle Dock, which includes a cable for under $30; now Thought Out does the same for under $20.
While the three-foot cable adds practicality, it detracts a bit from iPed shuffle’s overall look. Thought Out used an iPod-matching bright glossy white paint for the stand we tested, but the USB cable looks like an “inexpensive but close enough” solution. It’s topped with an unevenly cut plastic piece that could really use a bit of extra professional polishing, and doesn’t match the stand’s color. The rest of the cable is light beige and has black part numbers and component details printed prominently on its side. Mostly because of the plastic top, the cable seems like a bad visual match for the metal stand’s clean lines.
The metal stand itself is good, though. It uses dark rubber to pad the bottom for stability on a flat surface, and just as with the iPed 2 we tested, it looks really nice next to both an iPod and a computer. Unlike Apple’s iPod shuffle Dock, which holds the shuffle monolithically upright, the iPed shuffle goes back to the classic iPod Dock’s more traditional reclined position.
As between Apple’s and Thought Out’s offerings, there’s no question that the iPed shuffle is a better value. Its metal stand constrasts markedly with the overly simple plastic part Apple used for its Dock, and amply demonstrates that a healthy profit can still be made with a superior component at half the price of Apple’s offering. The compromise, unfortunately, is in the look of the cable. If you can get around that single flaw, which in our opinions cuts the stand from A-level status to B-level, you’ll really like the iPed shuffle.