Review: Customizable Universal Dock for All Your Mobile Gadgets

Why would you line all your tablets, smartphone (and whatever else charges) on a dock in front of you? There are a few cool reasons that you may not have thought of, besides just charging them. If it seems silly to even have a tablet anymore (or an iPod), hear me out. In the right conditions, two tablets are actually better than one. Two tablets with an iPhone sandwiched in there is majorly empowering (looks cool, anyway)! Udoq, which is being featured on Kickstarter launch in the U.S. gets more than a few things right to make multi-device docking interesting.

Udoq is made from what feels like an extruded piece of aluminum. It's solid and stable, which is pretty important if you're propping up a bunch of your favorite tech gadgets. The heft of it could almost suggest double duty as a handy nightstand security appliance. The docking concept is not dissimilar to other changeable plug adapter technology I have evaluated in the past.The difference is that Udoq will support a horde of devices from different manufacturers at the same time, and the presentation is a surprising force multiplier.

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The dock has a channel that allows you to slide the interchangeable plugs in along the base and route the cables out the back. The plugs are special and part of the cable, however the dock does not include power, so you will need to buy or have a handy PDU as well (Udoq sells one). Rubberized strips along the back help stabilize the docked device. All in all, a simple and effective design.  I tested two iPads, a Samsung tablet, my iPhone, and iPod. Everything worked and it lived up to the name of being universal. Since there are not two Lightning connectors in the kit, I had to add my own 30-pin to lightning converter to the top of one of the adapters to run my iPhone as well. I also used a charging base that is made for USB (so consider that as a separate purchase). I like the simple design and sliding modular plug capability (you can go online to configure your Udoq), however I think this would be a bit more useful if the power supply was somehow built into the unit's base. 

Another cool enhancement would be to add the ability to change the Udoq orientation (I know this sounds crazy, but again hear me out). It would be cool to add optional inserts that support your devices with the stand rotated on its side. You can slide these locking supports into the base channel in between to support each device, and then an additional extending arm could be added to the back that will allow it to be turned on its side (I already tested it without any inserts, and it mostly worked though my iPhone and Samsung tablet were precariously close to flopping out). Udoq comes with a special leveling doohickey for a device that needs to sit on its side to charge, but I think my Udoq tree looks much cooler.

The Verdict

Udoq wasn't  primarily intended to give you multi-mobile screen bliss, but to me (a technical writer and engineer), it is infinitely more interesting than a simple universal charging base (though it works fine in that regard). The adapter and cable setup seems like something destined for obsolescence as newer cable standards (never mind wireless charging) come out, forcing you to go buy the next new special cable for your Udoq. I like the construction, and basic design. I give it the iPhone Life stamp of approval and all that; but I would like an adapter to use my own cables, even though the Udoq folks tell me they make superior ones anyway (longer, sturdier, etc.) While for the next few years we still have multiple handheld gadgets to charge, in lieu of chips embedded in our heads or robot assistants trundling along beside us, you might want to check it out. Coming soon to US retailers! 

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Nate Adcock is a system and integration engineer with experience managing and administering a variety of computing environments. He has worked extensively with mobile gadgets of all shapes and sizes for many years. He is also a former military weather forecaster. Nate is a regular contributor for the iphonelife.com and smartphonemag.com blogs and helps manage both websites. Read more from Nate at natestera.tumblr.com or e-mail him at nate@iphonelife.com.