PadDock 10 iPad speaker dock makes beautiful music
Here at TUAW, we get a chance to see a lot of iPad and iPhone docks. In fact, you may have seen our recent iPad dock holiday gift guide. One new iPad dock that we didn't know about at the time the gift guide was being published was the PadDock 10 speaker dock from SMKLink (US$99.99).
The PadDock is well-made of black plastic and brushed aluminum, and it's quite solid and sturdy. The mechanism used to hold the iPad in place clicks when you push the iPad in, and you know that it's going to stay in place without moving. The iPad can be rotated 360° or more, and there are detents every 90° to lock the device into place in either portrait or landscape orientation. The base is actually thicker than that on an iMac -- it provides the weight on the smaller base to keep the PadDock from tipping over. With an iPad in place, the PadDock looks like a miniature iMac; so much so, in fact, that I am tempted to get one just to give my iMac a "Mini-Me" companion.
The sound quality out of the speakers is very good. While it doesn't have quite the range of high-end speaker docks available for the iPhone and iPod touch, the PadDock does provide decent volume and frequency range that is good enough for listening to most music or watching movies.
PadDock uses custom-designed oval speakers with neodymium magnets for loud volume, which is controlled by a wheel on the side of the iPad. The speakers are spaced far enough apart to provide very good stereo separation, and a passive radiator gives low-end bass tones some real punch.
If I have one complaint about the PadDock 10, it's about the cables. As you can tell from the video below (which was made before I had a chance to read the manual), there was some confusion about the different ports available on the back of the device. There's one that is obviously a power cable, as it is marked as such. However, it has a USB connector on the other end, and it's not immediately obvious if you're supposed to plug this into a computer or USB dock or use an AC Charger Adapter. The manual suggests using the AC Charger Adapter that comes with the iPad, although I used a third-party adapter with no issues. If you decide that the PadDock is going to be near your computer for syncing, there's a different cable -- USB to mini-USB -- that is used to charge or sync your iPad. You must physically flick a switch to go between charging or syncing when using this cable, and it was not clear from the documentation if it's possible or even recommended to plug both cables in at the same time.
TUAW will be giving away the PadDock 10 speaker dock as one of the many giveaways planned for Macworld Expo 2011 in San Francisco January 27 - 29. If you're going to be at this year's event, be sure to visit us in booth 1012 for a chance to win this and other valuable prizes.