Review: Marware USB Travel Dock for iPod shuffle (2G)


If you want a way to connect your second-generation iPod shuffle to a computer’s USB port, you now have four options. Incipio’s IncipioBud (iLounge rating: B) and Carrot Idea’s USB Flexible Dock (iLounge rating: B-) are inexpensive, unauthorized alternatives sold for $6-10. Apple’s official iPod shuffle Dock comes with the shuffle or can be purchased separately for $29, and now Marware’s USB Travel Dock for iPod shuffle ($20) has arrived.

Review: Marware USB Travel Dock for iPod shuffle (2G)

So why would anyone want to pay Apple’s price for an accessory that could be had for as little as $6? There are two reasons: safety and aesthetics. Rather than rushing to release the cheapest, simplest dock possible, Marware designed the USB Travel Dock to follow Apple’s second-generation iPod shuffle docking guidelines, using a thick plastic base that prevents non-shuffle devices from being connected to the headphone plug and electronically damaged as a consequence. As we’ve noted in the IncipioBud and USB Flexible Dock reviews, these products work just fine to charge and synchronize the new shuffle, but if they’re plugged into the headphone ports of any other device, they can seriously damage that device – a risk that iPod owners with younger kids might want to avoid.


Review: Marware USB Travel Dock for iPod shuffle (2G)

Review: Marware USB Travel Dock for iPod shuffle (2G)

Since Marware followed Apple’s design template pretty closely, it hasn’t been able to achieve quite the same size economies of its unauthorized competitors: it’s actually taller than Apple’s Dock, and a little wider, besides, which makes it the biggest chunk of plastic in this category. But other than the Marware logo on the bottom, it’s basically indistinguishable from a minimalist, Apple-designed part, and certainly nicer looking than the plain jane IncipioBud and USB Flexible Dock. Its lack of a USB cable also means that it packs down small – only a little bigger in overall volume than the USB Flexible Dock, and less space-consuming than Apple’s version.


Review: Marware USB Travel Dock for iPod shuffle (2G)

Marware includes both a headphone plug cover and a USB plug cover to keep these parts safe during travel. Like Apple’s Dock, however, the fact that the headphone plug and base are perpendicular isn’t really ideal for travel: though the headphone plug is pretty strong, you’ll need to be especially careful that it isn’t subjected to too much strain in your bag, and accidentally snapped off. Ideally, the plug could fold down for travel and pivot upwards only when needed.


Review: Marware USB Travel Dock for iPod shuffle (2G)

All in all, we think that the USB Travel Dock for iPod shuffle is roughly on par with the IncipioBud – safer for use around kids, but also substantially larger, and more than three times as expensive. Whatever benefits it packs in looks and design are offset by the fact that you can buy two extra IncipioBuds as spares and still come out ahead on price, a significant factor in our ultimate rating. That said, it’s a nice alternative to Apple’s official Dock, and priced $10 less, so if you’re looking for an equally shuffle-safe replacement or alternative, it’s worthy of your consideration.

[Editor’s Note: Our review originally listed the price of Apple’s optional dock as $19 rather than $29, and has been corrected.]

Table of Contents

Our Rating


Company and Price

Company: Marware


Model: USB Travel Dock

Price: $20

Compatible: iPod shuffle (aluminum)

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Jeremy Horwitz

Jeremy Horwitz was the Editor-in-Chief at iLounge. He has written over 5,000 articles and reviews for the website and is one of the most respected members of the Apple media. Horwitz has been following Apple since the release of the original iPod in 2001. He was one of the first reviewers to receive a pre-release unit of the device, and his review helped put iLounge on the map as a go-to source for Apple news.