In-Desk Dock for iPod: First Look

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In-Desk Dock for iPod: First Look

Now that's just good ol' yankee ingenuity.


Belkin makes a few different In-Desk hubs, including three varieties of four-port USB hubs and an iPod dock. My first look at the In-Desk Dock for iPod revealed a solid product that will appeal to anyone who appreciates a clutter-free desk ... as long as that desk has a circular hole 3 inches wide and at least 1.25 inches deep.


The dock is shown nested inside the grommet, as it will be after setup in your desk. An A-to-B USB cable is included too.



The box includes a three-inch base (which Belkin calls a grommet) that holds a removable iPod dock. The dock piece sports a 30-pin connector on top for connecting your iPod, and the bottom has a USB B (squarish) port to connect the dock to your computer, and a stereo-out minijack for an optional connection to some stand-alone speakers or your headphones (although, if you want to use headphones, the minijack would be better located on top of the dock, not on the bottom). An A-to-B USB cable is included, but you'd need to supply your own audio cable for the speaker connection.


The grommet that was already in my desk hole is only 0.5 inches high. The grommet that comes with the In-Desk Dock for iPod is 1.25 inches tall. So make sure to measure the depth of your desk hole.



The first problem I ran into is the height of the grommet. The desks in my office have the required 3-inch holes, but the original grommets in them are only 0.5 inches tall. The In-Desk Dock's grommet is 1.25 inches tall. So if your desk's hole isn't deep enough, the grommet won't lie flush with the desk. I ran into this on one desk (a stray piece of wood was in the way), but that mostly tells me that these desks just aren't designed very well. But anyway, it's worth it to measure the depth of your desk's hole before you buy this product.


The first desk we tried had a piece of wood blocking the hole about an inch down (the black piece shown here is the original grommet, not Belkin's taller one)...


...which meant that Belkin's grommet couldn't lie flat against the desk. But once we found another desk with an unobstructed hole, it worked fine.



Once the grommet is installed, you connect the USB cable between the dock piece and your Mac. For tower Macs stored under the desk, you can run the cable straight down. If you have an iMac or notebook that lives on top of your desk, you can run the cable back up through either of the dock's two cable holes and connect it to a free port on your Mac. It's easy to click the removable dock into the grommet and twist to lock it in place.


My fourth-gen 20GB iPod mounted just fine without the adapters, which aren't included. If you have 'em lying around, it's probably better to use them. Apple sells three-packs of adapters for every iPod model for $9.



When it's time to mount your iPod, Belkin suggests using a fit adapter that matches your iPod's model -- but no adapters are included. The instructions say to use the adapter "supplied with your iPod purchase." If you don't have it, you're advised to "contact an approved Apple supplier to obtain one." Many other iPod speakers and accessories that feature a dock also supply these adapters, so perhaps you have a few lying around already. I successfully docked a fourth-generation 20GB iPod and a second-generation iPod nano without adapters. It worked fine, but the iPods were able to wiggle back and forth a little when docked, so over time this could cause extra strain on the dock's 30-pin connector.


If, like a lot of people, you already use the hole in your desk to route cables (for your phone, monitor, keyboard, maybe a surge protector, and so on), the dock piece does have two holes that you can use for that purpose, but they're not huge. Each of those two holes can accommodate about three regular-sized power cables, or just two extra-thick cables, such as the power cord for a Cinema Display.


Overall, it's a well-made dock, and works exactly as advertised. For $44.99, it'd be nice if Belkin included an audio cable or fit adapters, but that's a relatively small complaint. Look for a review of a related product, Belkin's four-port Front-Access In-Desk USB Hub, in the October issue of Mac|Life and soon on


Things to consider:


> Charges and syncs iPod over USB

> Desk must have a 3-inch hole at least 1.25 inches deep.

> Fits flush with desk for a clutter-free look




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