Browsing online, you see it. The case you’ve been searching and saving for. It’s beautiful and protective. It arrives in the mail and you rip open the case and pop it on your iOS device. It’s gorgeous and you’re ecstatic – until you go to slip your device on to your favorite dock, and it doesn’t fit anymore because of your new find. Not only that, that tight-fitting protection you once admired threatens to cause you to crack your iPod as you wrench the device out. Or, Apple’s solution to Antennagate, the free bumper case that improved the cellular connection issue, now won’t let you connect to your alarm clock dock. Arghh.
Enter the Radtech ProCable Shortz 30-pin dock extender. This tiny product eliminates docking or cord issues affiliated with some of the most popular cases on the market. Read on for my review.
This mini-marvel is less than one square inch (1.1 x .08 inches). The steel 30-pin male to 30-pin female connectors are contained in a hard plastic housing.
I tried the connector on three different cases and three docks. Some were lower profile cases and the extender worked as expected. I challenged the product by trying it on an old iPod Touch 1G Otterbox Defender case, Otterbox Defender for the iPad, and the Otterbox Defender for the iPhone 3G/3GS and it fit perfectly, rendering my third-party in-car charger, which is significantly thicker and wider than the Apple charger, usable again.
For docks, I tried the aforementioned cases with the extender on an alarm clock, juke box and Apple’s universal dock. The experiments were a bit worrisome. The dock fit fine and provided a snug connection. However, the resulting torque from the extended dock made me hesitant to use it for too long, as I feared the connecting pins would eventually bend or loosen from the base dock. It was not as much a fear in the juke box, as the devices had a surface upon which to lean, taking some of the tension off the connection. Radtech’s promotional pictures suggest docks with a supportive rear surface are preferable.
The ProCable Shortz dock extender retails for $19.95 on the Radtech website. Similar products such as the problematic SendStation dock extender ($25.25) or CableJive ($22.95) cost more, and Radtech is the only dock of the three that works with the Apple Bumper case for the iPhone 4. The real value is in the ability to use older products with incompatible dock shapes, as few case makers include dock adapters in their pack-ins.
Sometimes it’s the little things in life that help us more than we know, and the ProCable Shortz dock extender is a nifty little tool. It has a single purpose and does it well. At less than $20, it represents a great value as it renders potentially hundreds of dollars of adapters and docks useful once again, without the not-too-insignificant trouble of removing one’s case.