At a Glance
Cable for extending the iPod’s dock connector.
CableJive’s iPod Dock Extender Cable is one of two recent products (the other being SendStation’s Dock Extender) that fill a wish we expressed over two years ago (http://playlistmag.com/weblogs/todayatplaylist/2005/02/connectorextender/index.php) for a cable or adapter that would let you use a case-encased iPod with dock-cradle accessories such as speakers and AV docks.
Whereas SendStation’s Dock Extender is a small adapter, the iPod Dock Extender Cable is a two-foot cable with a dock-connector plug (male) at one end and a dock-connector port (female) at the other; you connect the female end to the dock-connector plug on your favorite iPod accessory — such as the one in the cradle of a set of iPod speakers — and connect the other end to the dock-connector port on the bottom of your iPod. Unfortunately, there’s no label or graphic on each connector to indicate the front or back; you have to figure this out by trying each direction. The cable is also fairly thick, especially compared to Apple’s own dock cable.
Once connected, CableJive claims the Extender Cable provides most of the features provided by Apple’s dock-connector interface: audio, iPod control (for example, via an iPod speaker system’s remote), charging, accessory-power output (for those dock-connector accessories, such as FM transmitters, that get their power from the iPod itself), and accessory identification (for those accessories that take over your iPod’s screen). In my testing, these features all worked as expected.
On the other hand, the Extender Cable does not support audio input (for recording audio directly to the iPod, such as when using an iPod microphone accessory), video output, or data syncing. So you can’t use it, for example, with a dock accessory that lets you view your iPod’s video or photo content on your television, and you’ll need to use Apple’s own dock cable to sync with iTunes.
Need a longer cable? CableJive will custom-make one for you at a cost of $2 per additional foot; you simply add “feet” to your shopping cart, using a link on the cable’s Web page, before ordering. This is a nice option, as it means the Extender Cable can also be used to connect your iPod to a dock-connector accessory — say, a car-stereo-integration system — from farther away than the system’s own cables or connectors would allow. (CableJive told me that the longest Extender Cable the company has yet made is a 17-foot version for a customer who wanted to keep his iPod in the front seat of his car while it was connected to a stereo system in the car’s trunk.)
That said, there are a couple downsides to this custom-made approach (even the stock two-foot version of the Extender Cable is made to order). First, the Cable is expensive; $65 is a lot of money for what is essentially an extension cord. To be fair, the company admits that the Extender Cable, as opposed to a simple adapter such as Send Station’s Dock Extender, is aimed at a niche market that specifically needs this type of product — for example, in-car and in-home installations. And the longer a run you need, the less expensive the cable seems thanks to a relatively affordable per-additional-foot cost. Second, because the Cables are custom-made, they don’t have the finished appearance of mass-produced accessories; for example, on my sample, the cable was a slightly different color than that of the connectors, and the joint between the cable and each connector was hand-sealed by some type of silicone (though I wouldn’t be surprised if the Extender Cable held up better to abuse than mass-produced alternatives).
On the other hand, because the product is custom-made, CableJive can quickly implement improvements; a representative told me that since we received our sample, the company has made the cable itself more flexible and upgraded the strain-relief connections between the connectors and the cable.
If you’re looking for a way to use your case-protected iPod with a dock-cradle accessory, SendStation’s Dock Extender may be a more economical way to go. But for situations where you actually need to extend the reach of a dock connector, CableJive currently has the only solution on the market.–Dan Frakes