The iPort Charge Case and stand is a curious product. Not once have I thought to myself “man, it would be great to easily dock my iPad at various angles while simultaneously charging the device.” I am not really sure why that hasn’t crossed my mind, as I have become accustomed to that exact process, thanks solely to the iPort Charge Case and Stand. Read on to find out more about this device.
Charge Case Design
Half of the magic of the iPort is the case. This case both protects your iPad Mini, and also enables wireless charging. Note, this is wireless charging, not inductive. While a seemingly minor difference, this wireless charging system adds external contacts to the iPad that must come in contact with the stand. This is in contrast to the electrical contact-free systems used in inductive chargers. iPort has smartly added these contacts in both portrait and landscape orientation with magnets to help align the device to the stand and provide some extra stability when docked.
The case itself is pretty neutral. It protects all surfaces adequately, wrapping around the front of the iPad mini in a slider-type configuration. All button cutouts are adequately spaced, and all switches and buttons are accessible. The headphone port is a tad bit off center meaning that headphones with larger headphones plugs (like my Shure SE215’s) will not work. There is a 1/2″ (~1cm) chin on the bottom of the device which enables the aforementioned wireless charging. A really cool feature is that the lightning connector is removable so that you can use the port for other things (this will disable wireless charging).
A major downside of having the large base is that the speakers are blocked; iPort has remedied this with a series of holes in the front of that case that they claim help to enhance the audio. This is really just a slot that redirects the sound to the front of the device instead of downwards. In my tests, I have not noticed a marked increase in audio quality, but I have also not heard a decrease in quality, so this case does not encumber the sound in any way.
Another intelligent addition to the case is support for the Apple Smart Cover, iPort has built some magnets into the case so that you can just attach the smart cover directly to the case and retain all features the Smart Cover offers.
The Stand component of the iPort Charge Case and Stand is a pretty simple system. The stand consists of two main parts, a dock component and a weighted base.
The dock is designed well enough, with a simple lip to keep the iPad in place, and magnets to help position the iPad correctly and to provide additional support. The dock also includes electrical contacts which will charge the iPad (in Charge Case) when it is placed on the dock. The dock sits on the weighted base with a height adjustable hinge. The included angles are sufficient and the buttons used to allow for adjustment require just the right amount of force to actuate. My one issue with this method is that it can be a bit unwieldy to squeeze both buttons, I would much prefer if just one button would allow the dock to adjust, but I understand that requiring both results in a better and less accident prone connection.
The base includes a 12W charging adapter built in. The power cord for this is sadly not removable, meaning when you want to run the cable, you better have room for the bulky power brick or the entire stand to pass through your setup. The lack of removable power cable is the single largest flaw in this product.
The rest of the Stand is great. The base is adequately weighted, and sufficiently grippy to stay in place when using my iPad while docked.
The whole iPort system works really well. In the couple weeks I have been using it, I have had no real frustrations with the product, and I love the ability to charge wirelessly. I do think the price is a bit steep — $100 for iPad Mini (both with and without Retina Display), and $120 for the iPad Air and iPad 4 — but not unreasonable, I have seen docks that do far less cost just as much. Overall, iPort has made a great product that I enjoy using on a day-to-day basis, not an easy feat.