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SendStation Dock Extender
Over two years ago I wrote an open plea to iPod-accessory vendors for a "dock-connector extender" -- basically some sort of adapter or extension that would let you use dock-cradle accessories with an iPod stuck inside a protective case. In April of this year, I reviewed the first such product, CableJive's hand-made Dock Extender Cable, and found it to be a decent solution, if a bit unwieldy. It took a few months more before we finally saw the type of product I was really hoping for back in early 2005: a small adapter that simply extends the dock-connector port outside of a protective case. Not surprisingly, that product, the Dock Extender, comes from SendStation, a company that's made its mark by providing small dock-connector accessories such as the excellent PocketDocks.
The Dock Extender is a very simple product: less than an inch tall, the top provides a male dock-connector plug and the bottom hosts a female dock-connector port. You plug the top of the Extender into the dock-connector port on the bottom of your iPod -- the Extender is thin enough to fit nearly any case with a dock-connector opening -- and then sit your iPod in your favorite dock-cradle accessory, such as an iPod speaker system or an AV dock. That's all there is to it; you can now use your iPod with these accessories without having to take the player out of its case.
The only drawback here is that this arrangement puts a decent amount of stress on the dock-connector plugs and ports; without any support, your iPod's weight would be born entirely on these thin connectors. So SendStation includes a nifty dock-cradle insert that uses Apple's Universal dock design. The insert fits in any Universal dock cradle and provides an opening into which the Dock Extender fits perfectly; your iPod then rests against a metal brace connected to the insert. At the top of this brace is a rubber cushion that's flat on one side and rounded on the other; you face the flat side forward when using the insert with full-size iPods and put the rounded side forward for use with nanos and minis. This insert adds to the cost of the Dock Extender, but it's well-designed and protects all three pieces of your setup -- iPod, dock, and Extender.
The Dock Extender also works with bottom-mounted iPod accessories such as microphones and FM transmitters, letting you use these accessories while keeping your iPod protected inside its case.
The only real drawback to the Dock Extender is its price: $29 isn't inexpensive for what is essentially the iPod equivalent of an extension cord. But the Dock Extender works great, is compact enough to carry in the smallest bag, and includes a unique dock insert/stand that makes the Extender both easy and safe to use.
SendStation Dock Extender
Extender/adapter for using dock-connector accessories while your iPod is in a protective case.