capsule review

PadDock 10 is a quality iPad stand, an adequate speaker

At a Glance
  • SMK-Link PadDock 10

    TechHive Rating

    The Mac-matching PadDock 10, a combination iPad stand and speaker system, holds your iPad snugly. The speaker won't impress, but the stand does a great job of angling your iPad well.

SMK-Link’s $100 PadDock 10 is a desktop iPad stand, charging dock, and speaker system that's available in two versions: The original PadDock 10 for the original iPad, and the PadDock 10v2 for the iPad 2. (If you try to use the wrong PadDock with your particular iPad model, you risk damaging the iPad's dock-connector port, letting your iPad fall out of the stand, or other lousy outcomes.) With an iPad in the plastic stand—you’ll need to take your iPad out of its case, or remove its Smart Cover, to get a good fit—the appearance is reminiscent of an aluminum iMac or Apple's Thunderbolt Display.

The PadDock rotates 360 degrees clockwise or counter-clockwise, locking in 90-degree intervals, to let you quickly and painlessly rotate your docked iPad into landscape or portrait orientation in either direction. The stand also offers 30 degrees of tilt adjustment, allowing you to angle your iPad up or down as desired. In my testing of both versions of the PadDock, the stand rotated easily, and the 30-degree-incline option made for a nice desktop viewing angle. The unit’s base employs an anti-stick pad that worked well at preventing the PadDock from scooting around my desk when I inserted, rotated, or removed my iPad. I also found the stand to be quite sturdy, even when tapping on the iPad's screen.

The unit ships with two accessories: a USB-to-mini-USB cable to connect the PadDock to your Mac for syncing a docked iPad; and a cable for powering the PadDock using your iPad's own power adapter. I also successfully powered the PadDock 10 by plugging the power cable into my MacBook Pro’s USB port, but I wasn't able to sync my iPad when connected that way. A Charge/Sync switch near the PadDock’s dock connector toggles the system between syncing with your Mac or charging your iPad—it can’t do both at the same time. (Although according to the PadDock's manual, when your iPad goes to sleep while in sync mode, the iPad charges "very slowly at a rate equivalent to plugging directly into your computer.") I think many people would prefer to be able to simultaneously charge at full speed and sync, but if, like me, you tend to sync your iPad directly with your computer, you'd using the PadDock 10 mainly as a stand and speaker, so this limitation may not be a big deal.

As a speaker system, the PadDock 10 employs two 40mm by 55mm speakers, though because of their close proximity to each other, you won’t notice much, if any, stereo separation. (That’s even truer when you rotate your iPad in portrait orientation, positioning both speakers on the same side of the iPad.) You adjust volume using a dial on the speaker section of the stand. In terms of audio quality, the PadDock is nothing fancy—it's louder than your iPad’s built-in speaker, but the audio quality sounds a bit tinny and lacks punch or bass presence. If you’re content with your MacBook’s built-in speakers, the PadDock 10’s audio quality will likely satisfy. Audiophiles will want to look (or listen) elsewhere. As a desktop stand, though, the PadDock 10 looks nice, rotates and adjusts smoothly, and provides good angles for screen viewing.

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At a Glance
  • TechHive Rating

    The Mac-matching PadDock 10, a combination iPad stand and speaker system, holds your iPad snugly. The speaker won't impress, but the stand does a great job of angling your iPad well.

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