Stay in the saddle
Opting out of a dock connector for your iPod is kind of like riding a wild horse – bareback. Unless you're a careful, expert rider (or driver) that never ventures off the smoothest roads in summer climates, it's a wise idea to keep things secure. For those who have connected their expensive iPod or MP3 player to their car stereo, it's advisable to invest in a dock connector, a device that keeps your Nano from smashing against the passenger side door at the next left turn.
Here are some of the devices from different manufacturers addressing the need of music-loving, MP3-toting motorists.
The Microflex Car adapter plugs directly into a car's 12-volt outlet, powering and charging your iPod while navigating city streets and country highways.
The name says it all. Microflex boasts that its dock "is the most flexible car mounting system you'll find anywhere!" We're not sure what the market is like for that kind of device, but this company sure is all over it. Both the cord leading from the cigarette lighter adapter and the dock itself are of very bendable material. Although we're pretty hesitant to call this the greatest invention since sliced bread (or even Tickle-Me-Elmo), it will prevent any unfortunate cracks or snaps that cheaper plastic might be subject to.
Aside from the fact that the name sounds like an oversimplified East German automobile description [leave this alone, copyedit (but cut this out, please)!], the Microflex Car is only currently available for one particular iPod, the lightweight Nano. That's pretty inconvenient considering the popularity of the standard iPod (which holds the most songs) and the newer iPod Video.
Price : The Microflex Car retails for $49.95 USD.
is also flexible.
Ten Technology also goes the way of the flexible 12-volt adapter, only in slightly different fashion. The dock itself doesn't really hold the iPod at all.
Other than the relatively sturdy and flexible design, the best part of this device may be its compatibility. The flexibleDock works well with all iPods beyond the third generation, as well as the Nano, Mini, and Video.
Well, it isn't really so much of a dock as it is a big flexible wire connecting in place for the sole purpose of charging your iPod. To us, that makes "flexibleDock" a bit misleading, but hey, that's just us. It's also tough to recommend considering the price tag, since the accessory itself simply feels cheaper than the competition.
Price : Ten Technology's flexibleDock retails for $49.95 USD.
We're starting to see a trend here. It's pretty clear that the manufacturers of iPod auto accessories have uniformly decided that each and every peripheral must be bendy . Apparently, that's very important. Heck, I guess there could be some sharp corners. In all seriousness, Griffin's TuneFlex boasts some of the cooler options for a dock connector and iPod charger.
First things first, the TuneFlex actually features a dock. It holds the device (somewhat) firmly in place, with outlets to other devices, such as an iTrip. It certainly isn't the most secure piece of hardware (there have been plenty of reports that the weakling Nano will completely fall off the connector).
Although we're pleased to announce that the TuneFlex features a dock, it isn't so much a full-fledged mount as it is a neat little holder. That's because it doesn't fit perfectly well and sometimes allows smaller devices like the Nano to fall right off. Call it a happy medium between the poor-boy (or girl) method of leaving your iPod in the cup holder and a mount that permanently welds the device to your console.
Price : Griffin Technology's TuneFlex retails for $39.99 USD.
The Belkin Auto Kit connects directly from your car's power source to your iPod. There's no funny business with a dock. Wait, don't we want that?
There are some cool features with Belkin's device, which simply looks and feels of higher quality than some of the competition (cough, Ten Tech, cough). For one, you can actually control the iPod's volume via this peripheral. That's an odd option, but hey, pretty cool. In addition, the Auto Kit features an attached adjustable amplifier. Finally, there's a strap along the cord that can reel in excess cable, keeping your driving area clear of debris.
It's a cord. There's really no dock here, and if you want it, then get ready to shell out an additional thirty bucks.
Price : You're paying for the higher quality and the neat-o options. The Belkin Auto Kit (minus dock), retails for $39.99 USD.