Is the iPod dock worth it?
March 3, 2005 10:40 AM   Subscribe

iPodFilter: I'm on the verge of buying an iPod, and am wondering if the dock is worth it.

I'm on a budget, so $40 for the dock adds a significant amount to my purchase, but if you people think it's necessary, I'm willing to spring for it.

Any other iPod accessories worth buying right off the bat?
posted by sid to Shopping (22 answers total)
The dock holds the iPod up. Otherwise, it's no biggie. (shrug)

I personally have two cables for transporting the iPod between work and home easily.
posted by jragon at 10:41 AM on March 3, 2005

Don't the dock come with the dang thing? Or is that just the stupidly priced model?
posted by xmutex at 10:43 AM on March 3, 2005

I never use my dock. The ipod takes up nearly the same amount of room regardless, and it's usually charging with my cellphone anyhow -- which doesn't have a dock, either.
posted by xo at 10:44 AM on March 3, 2005

Ditto jragon et al: the value of the dock to me is that it keeps it makes the setup look somewhat neater in our living room (where we plug the iPod into the stereo system), and also it keeps the cat from knocking it onto the floor every night. If you're the type that might have a hard time remembering to plug it in when you come home, it might make it a bit easier to do that.
posted by handful of rain at 10:45 AM on March 3, 2005

All the dock will really do for you is provide a line out to go to your stereo which supposedly provides better sound quality. It is not necessary.

Note that I have the dock and use it when charging my iPod, but I basically just use it because I have it-- there is no real need for it. I've never used it with my stereo as the computer that holds my music has a line out to the stereo anyway.
posted by synecdoche at 11:13 AM on March 3, 2005

I've ended up getting a skin for my iPod, and now it won't fit in my dock, so I'm no longer inclined to recommend one--unless you somehow know you'll never get a silicone skin for it (there are thinner, sticker-based skins as well).

I do like having a recharger (the "Extra iPod Power Adapter" at the Apple Store) for home and a sync/recharge cable (the "iPod Dock Connector to FireWire Cable") for work, though. And a recharger for the truck, and an iTrip, and... damn, Apple's succeeded in getting me to separate myself from a lot of money!
posted by kimota at 11:27 AM on March 3, 2005

My iPod mini charges along with my cellphone on my computer desk, so I don't really need the dock. Though it does look neat, and I'm beginning to get the urge to listen to it through my home stereo, and I guess it'll look better.

Being accident prone, I shelled out an extra $24.99 for a hard aluminum case for my iPod mini. It was an out of the box special at the Apple store.
posted by icontemplate at 11:29 AM on March 3, 2005

My favorite cheap iPod accessory is a tape adapter. The sound quality is fine (not primo) but you can play you're iPod through any car stereo with a tape player, any 2-bit boombox or stereo system, with no fuss or calibration like with iTrip. The $8 I spent was money well spent. The $40 I spent on iTrip... not so much.
posted by bonheur at 11:31 AM on March 3, 2005

The iPod mini's no longer come with a dock and I would imagine that the same will go for newer full size iPods. But to answer the question, I like the idea of it, but find that it's more trouble than it's worth.

I'm planning on getting a cover/skin/carrying case that will allow me to plug it in while still in said cover/skin/carrying case.
posted by FlamingBore at 11:33 AM on March 3, 2005

The Dock is not necessary, and as others have said, if you get certain cases or skins that are meant to be left on, you won't be using it anyway. Cheap accessories that come in handy: a cassette adapter, a mini-plug to stereo RCA cable, and a male mini-to-mini cable. And maybe a mini-to 1/4" adapter. These are common adapters; you can find them at any electronics store. I can play the 'Pod through everything from my car stereo to a hotel room TV to a pro PA system with these, and it should cost less than the price of a Dock for the lot of them.

A second FireWire cable for work would be nice too, but I'm to cheap to bother buying one so far.

You should also borrow and try out an iTrip or other radio device before buying one, as they may not be able to do the job, depending on your location. ...this also makes iTrips easy to borrow for vacations, as lots of people I know ran out & bought them and now find them inadequate for city use.
posted by obloquy at 12:20 PM on March 3, 2005

Here's the way I figured it when I was buying my iPod:

If you plan on using the iPod primarily at home, the dock is nice because you can attach to your computer to sync and charge your iPod, and also run a line out of the dock to your stereo system and listen to the music through your speakers.

If you plan on using the iPod on the road or walking/jogging, you'll probably want a nice sturdy case to protect it from bumps and drops, and most cases would prohibit you from using the dock easily. (You'd have to take the iPod out of the case to put it in the dock, which might be annoying.)

I bought a model that included the dock, and I almost never use the dock. I bought the Contour Showcase from the Apple Store, and am quite happy with it. It's like armour for your iPod. It's a lot easier to just plug the charge/sync cable into the bottom of the iPod and lay the whole case next to my computer. I have a line running into my stereo with a 1/8" plug at the end, so I can just plug in the iPod when I want to listen to it on the speakers.
posted by NewGear at 12:20 PM on March 3, 2005

All the dock will really do for you is provide a line out to go to your stereo which supposedly provides better sound quality. It is not necessary.

And what a difference it is to have the sound going through the line-out rather than the headphone amp.

You don't need the dock per se, but if you don't get it, at least investigate a PocketDock. Line-out sound is significantly better.
posted by terrapin at 12:20 PM on March 3, 2005

And what a difference it is to have the sound going through the line-out rather than the headphone amp.

I agree with terrapin on this. If you plan to listen to your iPod through your home stereo speakers, the dock is worth it.
posted by agropyron at 12:30 PM on March 3, 2005

I like my dock, which came with my 3G iPod, but I have no rational reason to support this. If I upgrade to a 4G iPod, can I still use the same old dock I already have? (Apologies in advance for asking a tangent question.)
posted by matildaben at 1:47 PM on March 3, 2005

I don't use the dock that much.

I got a Monster iCarPlay Wireless Plus (ironically, not wireless) for the car; it's an FM transmitter that also charges your iPod. It usually works really well in San Francisco (better than my girlfriend's iTrip). Like our missile defense system, it doesn't work as well if it's raining.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:07 PM on March 3, 2005

i'll bite. i prefer my dock mainly because i'm in and out so much. if i always had to fish for a cable to connect/charge my ipod, i'd probably never charge it outside of my car. the dock is a convenient way to quickly connect, add a couple songs, and be on your merry way. just less of a hassle than fishing for wires and messing with the disconnect clips.

as far as accessories, i keep an extra cable with me so i can connect it to my laptop or use it as a 40 GB memory stick. quite convenient.

the other big thing is the belkin car charger/line out car adaptor. the beauty of this thing is that it charges and takes a line out from your ipod (which sounds better than the headphone output, and also never requires a volume adjustment on the ipod itself) from a single cable. your tape adaptor or radio adaptor then plugs into the line out jack on the charger itself.

i personally use a tape adaptor, as the RF transmitters simply don't work well in my cars, and tape adaptors generally sound better anyway.

posted by quadrinary at 2:20 PM on March 3, 2005

My ordered list of most important iPod accessories would be:

1) Case (prevent scratches & dings. Choose one that gives you access to the controls)
2) Power adapter (because I don't always want to depend on a computer to recharge)
3) Car adapter (either line-in, cassette, or RF, depending on your car setup. Noone I know has liked the iTrip; preference seems to be for the Monster)
4) Dock (to hook to your stereo)

The Apple iPod Stereo Connection kit includes items 2 and 4 for $79. It also has a Firewire cable and a Monster mini-RCA cable.
posted by joaquim at 3:26 PM on March 3, 2005

I love my dock. I used to have a cable-connecting iPod, and just never could be bothered hooking it up, finding the port etc, so I just hooked it up to the wall charger.

Now I have a dock I've got somewhere to leave the iPod, it's always charged, always in sync and it doesn't get scratched lying about. Get one!
posted by bonaldi at 5:08 PM on March 3, 2005

No, it isn't.

Also, I love my iTrip. Friends have the others but all covet my iTrip.
posted by esch at 5:12 PM on March 3, 2005

I have an early firewire-only iPod from the pre-dock days, so I can't help you particularly.

Accessories I bought are:

* Marware SportSuit™ Convertible for Original iPod (Which I now use in my Sony Sports Walkman™ iPod case mod)
* Griffin iTrip FM transmitter -- which I use in the car all the time.

I also got one of Griffin's apparently discontinued little plastic stands. A total extravagence, but it makes the iPod look very nice, even in the Mareware case.

Finally, I have a generic USB/Firewire power adapter for the car and a similarly generic wind-up Firewire cord for charging the iPod in the car.
posted by krisjohn at 5:12 PM on March 3, 2005

To chime in on the iTrip point, we have one and love it for long car trips, but we also get best results by detaching our radio antenna (we have a Jetta and it screws off very easily). If the radio antenna is on we've found that we have mixed luck with avoiding interference, though location makes a huge difference (i.e. driving through rural South Dakota vs. downtown Chicago).
posted by handful of rain at 6:03 PM on March 3, 2005

matildaben: the old Dock will work for the 4G 'pod, but not officially. The newer 'pods are slightly thinner so they won't seat as snugly in the old docks. Sticking a credit card or two behind the iPod will help it fit better.

sid: I remember now that the iPods that don't come with Docks also don't come with cases- that should probably be your highest priority accessory.
posted by obloquy at 1:59 AM on March 6, 2005

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