Category: iPhone Docks

Review: Skullcandy Pipe Speaker Dock


Skullcandy, a company most known for its headphones, also makes a speaker dock that works with iPods and the iPhone. When I took the Skullcandy Pipe Speaker Dock ($40) out of the packaging, I wasn’t expecting much. The dock is tiny, and it can barely support the iPhone without falling over backwards. Even so, this speaker dock packs a surprising amount of quality into a small and affordable package — if you’re willing to accept its many limitations.

The dock is about the length of a pencil, and it can run on AC power or four AAA batteries. I was initially skeptical about the chrome design, but the Skullcandy Pipe Dock doesn’t look out of place on a desk or nightstand, and it has a very small footprint. However, it attracts fingerprints like mad, so try to avoid touching it if you can.  The included remote is light and feels cheap, but it works well as long as you point it directly at the dock. I had no trouble using it to adjust volume, skip between songs or pause my music.

Now, here’s the rub. Even though the Skullcandy dock is marketed all over the Internet as a speaker for iPods and the iPhone, it’s not ‘Works with iPhone’ certified, meaning you have to put your iPhone into airplane mode to prevent interference. If you don’t, you’ll hear GSM buzz and static on a regular basis. This is a drag since you obviously can’t receive calls when the phone is disabled. I even get buzz when using the dock with my iPod nano if my iPhone is nearby.

So, you can’t make or receive calls on your iPhone when using the Skullcandy dock, or use Internet radio apps like Pandora, but the dock does work well when the iPhone is in airplane mode. Given how low my expectations were, I was pleasantly surprised with the sound quality. This is no audiophile’s speaker dock, but for a tiny, $40 dock the sound is much better than expected. Music is warm and rich at moderate volumes, although you’ll want to avoid loud or bass-heavy music, as the bass is pretty thin.

It also seems that the range between volume levels is too wide, as there were many times when the volume was either too soft or too loud and I couldn’t get it quite right. There’s also an extremely faint, but noticeable, static between songs, but it’s not noticeable when playing soft music. Overall, though, I was very happy with the sound and found the dock to be a great desktop companion.


We can recommend the Skullcandy Pipe Speaker Dock, but only for those who want a cheap speaker dock to play in a small office or dorm room, and who don’t mind putting their iPhone into airplane mode. Everyone else should spring for a more expensive dock that’s ‘Works with iPhone’ certified.

Sparkz Introduces Dock Projector for iPhone and iPod Touch

Spark iPhone iPod Projector With Tripod

The Sparkz Dock Projector ($495) is an egg-shaped video projector for the iPhone/iPod touch capable of a 640 x 480 resolution that can fill up to 60-inches of screen real estate. It’s also a dock that recharges your iPhone/iPod.

Sparkz Projector and Dock for iPhone iPod

The Sparkz Dock Projector packs a lot of hardware into its little shell. It has its own internal battery that can power iPhone video for up to 2.5 hours. It has stereo speakers on its sides and accepts video input via AV and VGA cables, which means it also supports video from a wide range of sources like camcorders, PSP, DVD players, laptops, computers, etc.

Sparkz Egg iPhone Projector Front

The Sparkz contains a Pico projector with a 3M lens and a 50,000-hour lamp life. For a sample of the projector’s video quality, skip to around 6:50 in the video below:

The projector also comes with a tripod, removable base, VGA cable, AV cable, and a wall charger.

Sparkz iPhone iPod Porjector accessories

The Sparkz’s $495 price tag doesn’t exactly make it a consumer device, but it could make a cool business gadget to lighten your travel load and impress clients with during presentations.

Review: Konnet iCrado Dock for the iPhone


Konnet’s iCrado ($29.99) is a sleek and stylish cradle that provides a comfortable upright resting place for your iPhone while it syncs or charges. It works with any version of the iPhone (first gen, 3G, and 3GS). The iCrado is pretty bare when it comes to extra features—its sole functionality is to serve as a stand. It does not come with an iPhone-compatible USB cord, so you’ll have to provide your own (you can use the cord that comes with the iPhone, or Amazon sells for them for as cheap as $3).


To connect the iCrado to the computer for synching, the USB cable is routed through the iCrado’s back port and secured in place with a small plastic clip. I was initially concerned about the durability of the plastic clip, but after removing the cable several times, I’m convinced it will hold up well.


The iCrado comes in black or silver; a variety of additional colors, including orange, green and blue, are available as limited editions. Again, the dock is compatible with all iPhone models.

Out of the box, I was surprised by two things — the iCrado is lighter than I anticipated and the silver color has a glittery finish that is not apparent in the manufacturer’s product pictures. It’s not bad, but I was expecting a smoother finish. While lightweight, the iCrado still feels reasonably solid. Setting up the dock is a snap, and I had my USB cable attached within minutes.


Once the cable is attached, the iCrado feels a little wobbly. There’s a small cutout on the back so the stand doesn’t sit on the cable, but the iCrado isn’t heavy enough to sit squarely with the cable attached. Once the iPhone is docked, however, the stand feels much sturdier. Docking the iPhone is easy, and I was happy that I didn’t have to remove my iPhone case. Unless you have a very thick iPhone case, you shouldn’t have any problems leaving it on.

There’s not much to say about the charging process, since… well, the process works the same as it does without the iCrado, especially since you’re using your own cord. I will say that my iPhone looks quite at home while sitting quietly in the dock.


Konnet claims that the iCrado enhances speaker quality using an “Advanced Reflex” design, and music does sound significantly better than it does with the iPhone flat on a table. I don’t think this is specific to the iCrado, however; music probably sounds better on any forward-facing dock that doesn’t block the speakers.


Overall, the Konnet iCrado is a nice-looking iPhone cradle that works well. It’s significantly cooler and better looking than Apple’s $30 iPhone dock, which also ships without its own USB cord. But let’s face it, products like the iCrado are not “must haves.” It may be nice to have your iPhone sit upright while charging, but it’s hardly a necessity. As a result, I think the iCrado is a bit overpriced at $30 — $15 to $20 seems much more reasonable for an iPhone stand. Still, it is better looking than many competitors in its price range, so we rate it an 8 out of 10, recommended.

Review: Griffin Simplifi Dock for iPhone

Griffin Simplifi Dock for iPhone and iPod

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.

Griffin Simplifi Blue LED

Some might find the glowing blue LED power indicator on the front as a drawback.

Griffin Simplifi for iPhone Card Slots

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.

Griffin Simplifi Short Mini USb Cord

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.

Griffin Simplifi iPhone USB hub

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.

Griffin Simplifi Rubber Bottom

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.)

Griffin Simplifi Back

Griffin Simplifi With Adapters


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.


Official website for the Griffin Simplifi