Lightning Review: Griffin Simplifi iPod-iPhone Dock/Card Reader/USB Hub

The Gadget: Griffin's Simplifi dock for iPod or iPhone, which aims to de-clutter your desk by tossing in a reader for CF, SD, XD and Memory Stick Pro cards and a two-port powered USB 2.0 hub. The right kind of convergence.

The Price: $US70 list, $US40 on Amazon

The Verdict: It does exactly what it sets out to do—combine three common USB devices into one gadget. I never use the dock that came with my iPhone EDGE—since my laptop is my primary machine, it always felt like a waste to plug the cable into the dock and the USB to my computer only for a quick charge or sync when I could just attach the cable itself. But with the Simplifi, there is obviously more of a reason to use a dock, because it knocks out the flimsy individual SD and CF card readers I was previously using, and frees up two additional USB ports. A rubberised bottom and just enough bulk ensures it stays put on the desktop, and its Apple TV/Mac Mini design cues make it not too much of an eye-sore, unlike most USB hubs and readers.

It comes with docking trays that mate with the whole of the current iPod/iPhone line plus the 2nd and 3rd-gen Nanos, the colour-screen video iPod classics and all of the Shuffles, and a DC power adaptor for hook-ups that need more than just bus power, which also works fine for smaller USB gadgets. Its card reader functions are great—fast speeds, and support for the only cards I ever use: CF and SDHC/SD and its associated mini version via adapters.

One drawback is that it does not include the audio line-out found in Apple's $US30 dock (which no longer comes bundled with any iPods/iPhones), so if you use that, Simplifi may not be for you. A third USB port also would have been nice (there's room on the back), and at a list price of $US70 it's a little steep, but $US40 at Amazon is a sweet deal, considering it's just a $US10 premium over Apple's dock. It's available now. [Griffin]

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