When Incipio released its second-generation iPod shuffle mini dock IncipioBud (iLounge rating: B), we were generally impressed: the company had managed to shrink a full-sized iPod shuffle dock into something barely larger than a USB connector, and sold it for under $10. Now there’s IncipioHitch ($15), a portable dock for the second-generation iPod nano; it’s available in white or black versions, each with clear USB caps for protection during travel.
As with IncipioBud, the concept behind IncipioHitch is to provide iPod synchronization and charging capabilities in the most portable package possible, a mark it misses only by reference to the now apparently discontinued Link360 from Macally. Consisting of two USB port-ready pieces, Hitch includes an iPod nano-to-USB dock and an extender pipe for USB ports that aren’t as accessible as the one in our photo. You can connect just the dock or the dock with extender as you prefer, or as your computer requires.
The rub with IncipioHitch is this: it doesn’t add as much value as IncipioBud did at half the price. Standard iPod nano docks offer both data and audio-out features; Hitch merely connects to your computer. Consequently, it’s nothing more than an alternative to the free Dock Connector to USB cable that comes with every iPod nano, save for the fact that it holds your nano above a flat surface. Basically, unless you’re getting it as a replacement for a broken Apple cable, you’re buying something merely to keep the nano horizontal or vertical.
When you really think about it, though IncipioHitch worked properly in our testing, the utility of such a limited dock is questionable. First, the nano’s screen does nothing of value while it’s synchronizing. Second, if you’re charging but not synchronizing with your computer, the nano can’t be used for audio since there’s no line out on the dock, and its headphone port is covered. In other words, all you can really do with it is watch music-free photo slideshows, which isn’t exactly a core feature or forte of the nano thanks to its tiny screen.
The nicest things we can say about IncipioHitch are that it looks fine, and isn’t objectionably priced. Incipio’s top dock portion uses a nice matte rubber finish that shows fewer smudges than a comparable iPod nano, and though the the bottom connector pipe’s outer coating isn’t exactly the same, it’s also matte-finished and unobjectionable. Overall, at $15 we consider it to be an acceptable replacement for Apple’s still-overpriced $19 cable, even if it’s not much smaller or more useful than the original cable, tightly wound.
Company and Price
Company: Incipio Technologies
Compatible: iPod nano (2G)