Review: Sinjimoru Sync Stand for Apple iPhone 5 Dock, Cradle Holder

£19.99 from Amazon.

I’ve long been an Apple fan (well a fan of the core devices they produce – not of the way they extort loyal customers with ridiculous prices for add on-consumer products). So when I got my iPhone 5 on the day it was released to the UK, my plan was to hang fire for a month or two and wait to see what the world of eBay and Amazon would deliver in the way of gimmicky add-ons. In particular, I always like a second charger and a dock station so I can charge and view my phone at my desk. Months after the iPhone 5 release nothing has been officially produced by Apple and the Lightning cable is still very expensive but I found this nicely designed dock that claimed to tick all my boxes.

iPhone 5 dock

Initially I was attracted by the design and the fact it worked by integrating my existing Lightning cable. It looked to be a good bet, especially if you were to believe the Amazon reviews.

On opening the dock, I was pleasantly surprised by its quality and feel. It appears to have been machined from aluminium and then plasti-coated. It is a solid and compact little design and looks as good on my desk as it did in the pictures on Amazon. It comes with a couple of adaptors to allow either the new Lightning or the older pin charger to be threaded through the dock and mounted. In this way, the phone can (theoretically) sit on the dock and over the charging point, with the cable inserted into the phone. I’ve only tested this with my Lightning-cabled iPhone 5, and it’s here that I started to have problems.

iPhone adaptors

The connection is unreliable at best. The Lightning cable pushes through a transparent base plate and the thickness of this base plate seems to affect the quality of the connection into the phone. Don’t get me wrong, if you wiggle it about a bit it eventually, sometimes connects but that’s not really what I want from a dock on my desk. I want something solid and easy to click in, which brings me to my next point. The way the dock seats the phone means it’s almost entirely supported by the Lightning cable’s connector. When this was the older style pin that might have been ok, because it was wide and robust but with the Lightning pin: recipe for disaster.

iPhone 5 docking station

For me, this has become a (very!) expensive stand for my phone that doesn’t charge or sync my phone. I have no idea where the other reviews came from on Amazon because it just doesn’t work. I’ll give it 1/2 simply because it looks pretty!

[easyreview title=”Dummy rating” icon=”dummy” cat1title=”Ease of use” cat1detail=”Well, it only works as an expensive stand” cat1rating=”0.5″ cat2title=”Features” cat2detail=”Simply doesn’t work as described for the iPhone 5″ cat2rating=”0″ cat3title=”Value for money” cat3detail=”Mmmmmm!! Feel like I’ve been conned on this purchase” cat3rating=”0″ cat4title=”Build Quality” cat4detail=”It’s a shame it doesn’t work. It’s very nicely built” cat4rating=”4″ summary=”I’d seriously avoid this if you are after an iPhone 5 dock. It’s useless.”]

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Review: Nook Simple Touch eReader from Barnes & Noble

UPDATE: If you’re looking for a super-cheap, colour, Android tablet, you might like to know that Amazon has recently slashed the price of the 7″ Kindle Fire to £99. Find out more here.

So then, the Nook Simple Touch eReader from US book retailer Barnes& Noble has become their loss-leading attempt at getting a toehold in the UK/European market. Geek, the tight-wad  wouldn’t shell out for a proper tablet, but when the Nook was slashed to £29, he couldn’t resist. And then I stole it off him for a play.

nook Simple Touch eReader

The first thing I notice when I take it out of its packaging is how tactile it is and how light. On the reverse, there are two parallel ridges that conform nicely to my grip and it feels comfortable to hold. It has a slightly rubberised feel to it, which also adds to that tactile feel.

It has a nice quick guide pre-installed and four buttons where your thumbs naturally locate on the front frame, which are additional navigation guides for turning pages. It took me a while to realise these were buttons and they need to be pressed hard to get them to work and as you can turn a page by swiping the screen, a bit redundant I think!

Usage wise, I quite like it, largely due to the very tactile feel. The size was just right for my style of reading although I can imagine it might be a bit on the small side for some people. I did read it on occasion under office LED lighting and found that some flat angles reflected that kind of light quite badly but I had to struggle to find such a position and overall the Nook was easily readable in all usual lighting conditions and gave me no kind of eye strain problems after long periods of reading.nook Simple Touch eReader

One issue I can foresee is the fact that it doesn’t link into the Amazon Bookstore but rather Barnes & Noble’s own store, which whilst adequate, isn’t quite as good.

A further little irritation for me was the screen transition and the way it seemed to flicker when refreshing. It wasn’t as fluid as a Kindle but then it doesn’t cost Kindle money!

Battery life appears to be everything claimed and having used the Nook for 3 or 4 days, the battery level indicator has not moved at all. The wireless connectivity has been switched on during this time although not heavily used.

The WiFi connectivity appeared faultless and it immediately connected or could see all of the wireless networks that my iPhone 5 could see.

Everything about it is just pick up and go or plug in and go. epub books can be put in the Books folder via a mini USB connector from your PC or via the MicroSD card with a simple cut & paste action. I did find the SD card slot to be poorly labelled and the compartment flap seems a bit flimsy.nook Simple Touch eReader

At £29 there’s really no excuse for not owning one. As a basic entry level eReader, especially when I line it up against a Kindle, considering the bargain price of the Nook, it has to be a solid competitor.

Now the Geek tells me it’s possible to “root” this and turn it into a whole different beast but to be honest that’s beyond me so I’ll leave him to look into that.

I’d recommended the Nook pretty highly. The market is crowded but it does what it says on the tin at less than the right price.

[easyreview title=”Dummy rating” icon=”dummy” cat1title=”Ease of use” cat1detail=”Downloading ebooks is a breeze. Basic eReading functions are intuitive.” cat1rating=”4″ cat2title=”Features” cat2detail=”It really has everything a good eReader should have and a few besides.” cat2rating=”4″ cat3title=”Value for money” cat3detail=”At the current price of £29 it is probably the best value for money eReader out there.” cat3rating=”4″ cat4title=”Build Quality” cat4detail=”I think it’s great. I love the tactile feel of it.” cat4rating=”4.5″ summary=”A very good value for money product that makes an excellent entry level to eReading if you were thinking of giving it a go.”]