At a Glance
USB Hub designed for iPod shuffle
Earlier this year, we reviewed Belkin’s $30 USB 2.0 4-Port Hub as a no-brainer alternative to Apple’s $29 dock base. Whereas Apple’s product is simply a USB extension cable with an upright plug that holds your shuffle vertical, Belkin’s model is a Klondike-bar-shaped, 4-port, powered USB hub: three ports on the back and one vertical port on the top.
PodsPlus’ new $23 iPod Shuffle Dock is nearly identical to the Belkin product in terms of functionality: The rear of the unit provides three USB ports, with a single, vertical USB port — designed for your iPod shuffle — on top. However, the Dock also differs from Belkin’s product in a couple singificant ways. The most obvious is size: Whereas Belkin’s hub is 3.25″ square by 1″ high, the PodsPlus Dock is 2.25″ wide by 1.8″ deep by .6″ tall — approximately 75% smaller. The other major difference is that the Belkin hub is a powered hub out of the box; an AC adapter is included. The PodsPlus Dock can be powered, but the necessary AC adapter must be purchased separately.
One feature of the Dock that I like is that its felt-covered feet are actually magnets, so you can mount the hub on any metal object; I found this useful when using the Dock on my desk, which has metal side shelves. On the other hand, the included mini-USB cable plugs into the right side of the Dock, creating additional cable clutter; I would have preferred the plug on the back.
I’m personally a fan of powered USB hubs, as I’ve had fewer problems connecting multiple devices when the hub provides additional power. However, not everyone needs such functionality; if you don’t, the PodsPlus dock provides functionality similar to Belkin’s iPod shuffle hub in a smaller package for $7 less.