Reviewed October 2007 by Jacob Spindel, Chief iPod Correspondent
f you were to use Google to search for “iPod accessories,” it would yield over 27 million results. So many companies are now accessorizing the iPod that it is becoming increasingly difficult for a particular vendor to establish a reputation for having a unique style of accessories that are not mere copies of products from other companies. SendStation, however, is one of the rare companies that actually achieves uniqueness, thanks to its creative designs for tiny adaptors that can often take the place of much larger Docks, cables, or other products. In the cases of the following four SendStation products, the company has remained true to its trademark style.
SendStation’s PocketDock Combo is virtually self-explanatory; most users could probably understand its functionality completely simply by looking at it. The PocketDock Combo is an adaptor measuring 1.25 inches by 1.25 inches by 0.44 inches, at the top of which is a Dock connector that connects to any iPod or iPhone model that uses the standard Dock connector port. At the bottom, the Combo has a USB-B connector and a 6-pin Firewire port. Simply attach a standard USB or Firewire cable, and you can sync or charge your iPod using whichever connection type your iPod supports (only the iPod mini and fourth-gen iPod fully supported both).
The PocketDock Combo is most useful for people who often use their iPod in an environment where standard USB or Firewire cables are readily available, but iPod cables aren’t. For other users, the Combo does not really add much functionality beyond what the iPod already has, although the device’s small size may be convenient for people who have limited space for their iPod equipment.
Although the PocketDock Combo is a small, compact unit, it is unfortunately still large enough that many types of iPod cases—especially hard cases—will need to be removed in order to use the Combo. This is a bit ironic, because the next SendStation device I evaluated was designed specifically to alleviate problems of this type.
Editor's rating (1-5):
Finally bringing and end to months of Internet surfers asking, "How come no one makes one of those?" the SendStation DockExtender is exactly what its name implies: a rectangular, plastic extension for your iPod's (or iPhone's) Dock connector, measuring just 1.19 inches by 0.94 inches by 0.31 inches and available in black or white. The purpose of the DockExtender is to enable your iPod to connect to virtually any Dock, Speaker Dock, or similar accessory, even if your iPod is inside a case that would otherwise have prevented you from connecting anything other than a simple cable to the iPod's Dock Connector.
The DockExtender includes a stand insert, compatible with Apple's Universal Dock, which features a metal backing frame, In other words, if you want to use the DockExtender with a Universal Dock or another accessory with a docking bay of equivalent size, you can first insert the stand into the Dock, and then your iPod, case, and DockExtender will fit into seamlessly, without any gaps, and will be braced from behind by the metal frame. This is an elegant feature and makes the full assembly look classy instead of kludgy.
Judging from a photograph of the DockExtender, you might be inclined to call it "Top-heavy" or think that larger iPod models would simply fall over if they were connected to it. However, the DockExtender is impressively stable and firm; in fact, you can connect your iPod to a Dock using the DockExtender, even without using the stand insert, and your iPod will remain upright securely without any risk of losing the connection to the computer (unless you intentionally jostle it). Since maintaining a connection under tough circumstances is essentially the primary goal of the product, SendStation was wise to design the DockExtender so that it maintains a firm, stable connection.
One minor annoyance is that, for some reason, the logo is on the back of the DockExtender instead of the front, even though the Dock connector has faced the same direction on every iPod that has had one to date. Although this doesn’t have any effect on the device’s functionality, it seems odd that a product advertised by SendStation itself as having “Zero features” would have a cosmetic inconvenience of this type, since aesthetics are one of the main reasons for using the DockExtender in the first place.
Editor's rating (1-5):
The newest and most advanced model in the PocketDock line is the PocketDock AV, which lets you not only sync your iPod via USB, but also connect it to a TV to display photos and videos. Measuring 1.75 inches by 1.3 inches by 0.5 inches, the PocketDock AV remains about the same size as previous models while adopting a new sleek, black color scheme.
The coolest part of the PocketDock AV is that it includes a comprehensive, single cable, which includes both standard composite connectors and an S-video connector, along with audio and USB. This means that owners of HDTVs can take advantage of the higher-quality S-video connection, but owners of older TVs won't be left out in the cold. Since there are no individual or separate cables, it is easy to carry the PocketDock AV with you, and it is less likely that any pieces of the device will get lost.
Unfortunately, the PocketDock AV also has a major disadvantage: the video features don't work with the iPhone, iPod touch, iPod classic, or iPod nano. I can't really blame SendStation for this, since these iPod models were released several months after the PocketDock AV, but the fact is that if you have any iPod other than the fourth- or fifth-generation models, the PocketDock AV won't provide you with any additional functionality beyond what earlier PocketDocks already had.
Editor's rating (1-5):
The EarBuddy is a carrying case for the earbuds that Apple includes with most iPods. The case, which measures 2.25 inches by 1.5 inches by 1.0 inches, is available in black and silver/orange versions. Because the case is coated with ballistic nylon, SendStation says it can withstand up to 200 lbs. of force, even though it weighs less than an ounce itself, which is handy for those of us who are a bit more “accident-prone.”
The EarBuddy is opened and closed using a zipper, and features a detachable key ring so you can attach it to your keychain. Inside the EarBuddy is a plastic molding, specifically designed for Apple’s earbuds, which lets you wind up the cable and hold the buds in place. The EarBuddy is ideal for people who use Apple’s earbuds, but if you use any other type, it is entirely possible that they won’t fit at all—and the plastic molding is not removable.
Editor's rating (1-5):
Depending on which iPod model you have, and which features you use, chances are that not all of SendStation’s products will be useful for your particular situation. However, SendStation’s clever product designs also ensure that you’ll probably find at least a few that work well for the iPod model (or models) that you own, especially if you have limited space or need excellent portability. If an ultra-compact syncing and charging system would benefit your setup, you will probably find that SendStation’s products are one in a million—actually, 27 million.