Placing your iPod on a desk or in an AV center is technically simple: lay it flat on its back or its face. But many people prefer not to scuff or scratch their iPods, so two types of stands have evolved: Docks with electrical components inside, and Cradles without.
Docks range from simple, inexpensive $20 USB cable-equipped iPod shuffle stands to sophisticated $100 systems that include AV outputs, remote controls, and charging capabilities. In the middle of the pack is Apple’s $39 Universal Dock, which can be connected to power outlets, computers, televisions, or stereo systems with an equally small footprint, and work with an optional wireless Infrared Apple Remote control.
Because they lack top-mounting accessory ports, which used to add secondary features missing from a simple dock, today’s iPods have a greater need for sophisticated, multi-functional docks than before. We expect to see more of these docks in 2006 than ever before. Alternately, many companies are now creating the most sophisticated dock variants – ones with speakers and remote controls – rather than bothering with the simple or mid-range ones. We review these in our Speakers review section rather than here.
On the other extreme are cradles, which we’ve sometimes referred to generically as “stands” in our reviews. They simply hold an iPod in place and allow you to attach your choice of cables or other accessories. These cradles are largely decorative, and vary in looks and pricing, typically selling for $20 to $50, rarely more. Our reviews of all of these sorts of Stands can be read here.