The Griffin Simplifi Dock ($45) is a versatile dock that can be used to charge and sync all generations of the iPhone as well as several generations of iPods—it even can fit an iPhone with all but the thickest cases. The Simplifi includes 2 card readers with read/write support for 6 types of digital media cards and comes with 2 powered USB ports on the back. Overall, we found the dock worked perfectly with the iPhone and can recommend it for iPhone users looking for something different from the default Apple dock, or for those who need a card reader or extra USB port.
The Griffin Simplifi comes with 6 white plastic adapters that allow various iterations of the iPhone and iPod to have a tight, secure fit while sitting in the dock. If you use an iPhone case, the iPhone won’t fit snug into any of the adapters. However, the Griffin Simplifi functions as a universal dock if you don’t use any of the adapters, leaving plenty of room for an iPhone with a case. A side effect of using no adapter is that the iPhone fits very loosely in the dock, and the docking process is a much less guided, and therefore, much less smooth, process.
The dock is a combination of aluminum casing and white plastic. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but we found it generally good looking. The fact that it breaks from the all-white plastic of Apple’s docks will appeal to those who like to “think different” while still maintaining some Mac aesthetic. Owners of a Mac Pro or the original Apple Cinema display, in particular, will find that the dock’s aluminum casing matches their equipment well.
Some might find the glowing blue LED power indicator on the front as a drawback.
There are two memory card ports on the front that have read/write support for 6 types of memory cards: Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, SD, SDHC, XD, and compact flash. Although not quite up to par with, say, a 60-in-1 card reader, the 6 supported formats should cover the basics for most.
The dock uses a mini-USB cord to connect to your computer (the end that plugs into your computer is normal USB, the end that goes into the dock is mini-USB). The cord is amazingly only 2-feet long, which is a problem if you plan on docking your iPhone anywhere but right next to your computer.
On the back of the Simplifi are 2 powered USB ports. Because you use up one of your computer’s USB ports to plug it in, the dock adds a net gain of 1 USB port to your computer. While that doesn’t exactly qualify it as a USB hub, it’s still a nice feature in an iPhone dock.
The Simplifi also comes with an AC adapter (wall plug), but strangely enough, you can’t recharge your iPhone when the wall plug is used. The wall plug only powers the USB ports on the back. You could conceivably plug your iPhone into one of the USB ports to charge, but this defeats the purpose of having a dock. If your goal is to have a dock you can plug into the wall and charge your iPhone (without connecting it to a computer), you will want to look elsewhere. (Just to be clear, the dock does charge your iPhone when the dock is plugged into a USB port on your computer.)
The Griffin Simplifi is a versatile dock for your iPhone or iPod that adds a net gain of an extra USB port as well as a card reader. Its silver aluminum breaks from Apple’s all-white-plastic docks, making it perfect for those who like a little something different, while still keeping with the Mac aesthetic.