Who doesn’t love a cool little accessory to go hand in hand with your iPhone or iPod right? Well BlueLounge is at it again with their updated version of the MiniDock. Sometimes simplicity goes a long way and the brilliance of having a dock that charges your iPhone/iPod without cables is a gadget lover's best friend. This concept has worked well in the past with iOS devices made with 30-pin connectors so we imagined the new updated version featuring a Lightning connector would function just the same, if not better - it indeed it does. Having the ability to view your screen upright without looking down at the table or floor just makes life a little easier, but there are some caveats that come with such a dock having it rely on the location of your wall sockets. The MiniDock comes with a hefty price of $40, so let's jump into the review and check to see if it warrants that price tag.
Right out of the box you're greeted with the MiniDock and a few plastic spacers. I wasn’t too sure initially what these tiny plastic pieces were used for. The dock itself is made out of soft rubber and it felt strong enough to last the lifetime of your iOS device. The MiniDock only comes in black and we would have liked to have seen a white version to match the white iPhone and white Apple 5W USB Power Adapter needed to make the dock function in a wall socket. If you've got an iPad 12W USB power adapter, it'll work too.
Inside the packaging comes the spacers I mentioned and worked just as advertised. The spacers are used to support the iPhone while it is docked in the MiniDock. The spacers fill the gap between the back of the dock and your device just in case you're rocking a slim case on your iPhone. Simply adhere the spacers to the front of the MiniDock and you're all set to use the dock with a naked or an encased iPhone 5/iPod touch 5.
It was nice to see those spacers added to the packaging because they were needed to prevent stress on the Lightning connector when docking the phone. Once you connect the dock to the USB adapter you simply plug it right into an outlet. Not rocket science here. It’s worth mentioning that this is not a case friendly dock. You might get away with something like an Incipio Feather or the Thule Gauntlet we reviewed recently, but your slider style or Otterbox style cases simply will not work.
The idea of having the ability to charge your iPhone or iPod without cables sounds gimmicky, but in all honesty, it was a very nice accessory to take on my daily travels. I brought it to the office, set it up, and everyone was asking what the heck you got there? The functionality of the accessory was flawless for any type of environment I demoed the dock. However, there were times when I forgot the USB adapter behind and was left dock-less for the day. Maybe the next generation will combine the two so you won’t need to carry along a USB adapter as well.
Once the phone is placed on the dock and charging in your wall outlet, the weight of the phone on the dock would add stress when plugged into the wall socket. It’s pretty tough to see from the picture above but it hangs down slightly. If you're aware of your surroundings I’m pretty sure your phone will stay unharmed, but keep in mind you can knock this out of an outlet if you're not careful.
There was always a situation when the MiniDock came in handy throughout the review process. Taking the dock to the office and having it upright for notifications coming in or checking the stock market was super convenient instead of reaching for the phone. Sorry, no pictures from the office allowed. At home, I was able to use the MiniDock all around from room to room. It was great to use in the kitchen while reading recipes to make a quick dish or quickly checking the local weather since it rains every 25 minutes then becomes sunny down here in Florida. Even in the bathroom I can dock the phone while jamming to some Pandora while I got some laundry done. So convenient that it was making me wish I can multiple docks for each room.
Now the only problem with having a few of these around the house would be the “add to cart” price on the BlueLounge website. This little guy comes in at $40 and a few of these docks would set your wallet back over a $100, but hey, if money isn't an object in your life than the BlueLounge MiniDock is a fabulous accessory to have for your iOS device. However, we think the Lightning MiniDock should be more in the price range of the 30-pin previous generation.
The simplistic design and functionality of the dock was spot on as advertised, but at first I felt the phone would fall off the dock. Hey don't judge, it was my first time using a dock of this nature and didn’t like the feeling of my phone floating in mid air. It was fantastic having those spacers to support your phone if you were going to use a thin snap-style case. I was able to dock my phone with the Thule snap case on without any setbacks to charging.
Only downside of the dock could possibly be that it's so lightweight. In any situation, I was forced to place my opposite hand on the dock before disconnecting the phone from the dock. Pulling the phone off the dock with one hand always ripped the MiniDock out of the wall socket. It's definitely not a deal breaker, but I felt it was worth pointing out. With BlueLounge having compatible options for other regions, we would of liked to seen an alternate white version to match the colors of the white iPhone and USB Connector. All white everything.
If it wasn't for the steep price, we would have been happy enough to give the MiniDock our recommendation. As it stands, we don't feel like it is worth spending $40 on especially when you've got to supply the USB charging adapter. If you're not worried about the price tag however, grab one or two because the MiniDock can be a very useful little charging companion if you think it will fit into your place of work and living.