The typical solution for charging recent iPads, is a simple matter of plugging the included USB cord (with Lightning connector) into your computer. You can also, if it is included, use the wall adapter to keep your iOS battery levels in the green. Another solution would be to employ the use of one of Belkin’s latest charging products, the Express Dock for iPad, which consolidates the functions of several different products. While it may not be for everyone, it is a compelling solution to issues involving usefully charging your Apple tablet.
The Express Dock is a solidly built charging stand for your iPad (and any other iOS device with a lightning connector). The square base has rounded edges, giving a futuristic, yet practical vibe that goes well with most room decor. The underneath the base of the unit is a soft material that also has a little bit of “stickiness”, giving your stand a little bit of grip when some pressure is applied to the top (via the weight of your iPad). The Express Dock has a built-in lightning connector in front of a rubber-coated stand, so you can seat your iOS device in an angled position for easy viewing of the screen without worrying about the rear of the device receiving any unintentional scratches.
This lightning interface can be manipulated thanks to a dial at the rear of the docking station, which enables you to accommodate any of the latest iOS devices. If your device has an open-bottomed case, there is a good chance that it may accommodate it – but it would be best to check first1. This mechanism seems to be fairly durable – but it must be stated that it takes a little bit of effort to use it the first few times; but once it is worked in, and you are used to the force required to manipulate it, it is not too bad. As the main draw for this accessory, it works really well with a bare iPad, or an iPad with a thin, open-bottomed case. The Express Dock would be challenged, though, by a case with a thicker bottom, as the lightning connector is a fixed length and is attached to an anchor that might prevent it from fitting through a lightning-plug-sized opening.
The Express Dock sports a 4-foot-long USB cable that is relatively sturdy – a definite plus when compared to the charging cables that tend to ship with iOS devices, which are more delicate and not quite as long. The USB end of the plug can be inserted into any USB jack – but unless that interface has enough juice to power your iPad, you’re not going to really get anywhere in terms of charging. I was pleased to see that this charger was able to use at least 3 of the wall plug adapters that I have, allowing me to place it anywhere.
What’s nice about the Express Dock is that it is easy to use and pretty tough. The combination of the weight and the material used on the underside makes for a fairly safe place to keep your device. While there is the chance that it could be knocked over (it would take some force to do this), your device doesn’t have too far to fall – which is a plus (although, one never knows what Murphy’s Law has in store for them). Plus, the profile of the Express Dock is slim enough to fit in some places with limited room.
The challenge that I have in recommending the Express Dock, though, relies purely on what accessories you may own already (in terms of cases and such) and whether or not you want to be able to use your iPad in a specific way. Do you have an iPad with a standard wall charger? Are you the type of person that likes to use their device while it’s charging? Do you have a case that allows your device to be oriented in a comfortable viewing position (the Express Dock only supports your iPad in portrait orientation)? Really, buying a decent case that can hold your iPad up in various orientations and buying a normal lighting to USB cable with wall adapter probably works out to be slightly cheaper than the $60 for this solution.
Slim and nice to look at. Fits most room decor.
The bottom line is this: if you only have an iPod or iPhone, or if you have a good iPad case and are looking for a slightly longer cord, Belkin has other interesting charging products that might better suit your needs. However, if you only have an iPad, with a thin case or no case at all, or multiple devices, then this solution is a good one for you.