Alternative to Apple’s dock base
Apple’s dock base accessory is a handy way to charge/sync your iPod without your player being bumped around your desk. And thanks to its line-level audio output, it’s also the best way to connect your iPod to your home stereo. Unfortunately, if your iPod didn’t come with a dock base, Apple charges a whopping $39 to get one.
If you’ve got a 10, 15, or 20GB 3rd-generation iPod; a 20GB or U2 4th-generation iPod; or an iPod mini, Pacific Rim Technologies’ $26 iCradle is a more affordable — and more versatile — alternative. The iCradle works just like Apple’s dock base; however, instead of requiring Apple’s iPod dock cable, the iCradle provides one USB2.0 port and one FireWire 400 port — you can use either type of cable to connect the iPod to its charger or to your computer. (You shouldn’t use both cables at the same time, according to the company.) Like Apple’s dock, the iCradle also provides a line-level audio output jack.
The company claims the iCradle will also work with 40GB 4G iPods, but with a tighter fit. In our testing, the fit was too tight; we don’t recommend it for 40GB 4G models.–Dan Frakes