A couple weeks back, we released a post about the Arq Dock. The company decided to pull the Kickstarter project as it was almost funded because it found a new and far more wallet friendly way of manufacturing. The new Kickstarter is now live and 2040 Studio has lent Geek Beat a couple of the prototypes to give you my impressions.
The Arq Dock
The concept for the dock is simple. It’s a single machined piece of aluminum in a half-moon shape. It’s 4″ wide, about 1.4″ high, and 1.8″ deep. It has a machined hole for a Lightning connector-sized case up top. For those who have an Android (or other) device, new specially-created MicroUSB cables were made that have the same plastic shroud size around the connector as a Lightning cable. If you have a device with a center-mounted port, this dock should work with your phone or tablet. That includes devices that have the port on the side for horizontal docking.
The cable itself can be adjusted by a pair of Allen-key screws. The top one is for standard height or larger cases and the bottom screw is for lower sitting devices. The cable is then routed left or right through form fitting channels for your nearest USB port. For enhanced stability, there are also a series of 10 holes for rubber tipped aluminum poles. These support your phone or tablet on the edges. These can reportedly do double duty as a stylus on Android devices. The Arq is held to your desk by sticky pads on the bottom. Lastly, the half moon design allows these docks to be positioned back to back. The big question though, is does it work? I’ll answer that next.
The Arq Dock in Operation
Do they work? Exactly as advertised. Setup is a breeze. Loosen the Allen screw, then thread your cable through the cable hole. For best fit, bring your cable out and connect it to your device. Now let your device rest on the Arq Dock. That way you won’t have to guess the adjustment height. Now insert the poles on the outer edge of your device and take the plastic off the sticky pads on the bottom and affix to your desk. It’s really that simple.
I tested it with two devices: my iPhone 5S and my Nexus 7 2013. I also used 5 cases on the 5S: a cheap TPU case from MonoPrice, a LifeProof Nuud, an OtterBox Preserver, a Snow Lizard SLXtreme, and a no-name battery case I bought last year for our coverage of the NRA (Restaurant) Show in Chicago last year. The first 3 iPhone cases use the Lightning connector in the phone. The last two are battery cases that use MicroUSB. It worked perfectly with the two devices sans case. In fact, it was pretty remarkable how well it held the tablet. There weren’t any issues with the battery case and the TPU case either. The LifeProof worked as well, with the Lightning hatch moved all the way back and the headphone jack removed. The twin screws provide plenty of height adjustment with that cable, both up and down. The OtterBox and Snow Lizard did not work because of the gap created. As a rule, if the bottom of the case of basically flat, it should work.
Re-docking is pretty easy with iOS devices – you can fit it back in the dock with minimal effort. The Micro USB devices require a little more work. This is more the asymmetrical Micro USB connector than the dock, as seating must be pretty exact. Lightning pretty much guides itself in. The Arq’s shape lends itself to working with multiple units in a small area. From my estimation, I was able to fit at least 4 Arqs in the same space occupied by my iPhone laying flat. This dock is a real spacer saver for your desk. It also attaches securely to your desk. In fact, it actually removed a bit of the finish from the top of my desk trying to remove it. It will not be going anywhere. If it gets dirty and begins to lose grip, cleaning it with a damp cloth works. One last observation, don’t over-tighten the screw as it could damage your cable. The switch to rubber-tip screws on the production ones should lessen this, but the cables used for the prototypes had all sorts of dents in them.
As for the stylus “feature”, it works perfectly on the touchscreen technology used in Android phones (but not iOS devices). However, holding it in your hand is like the worst golf pencil in the world. Possible, but not practical.
Pricing and Availability
At the $19 Kickstarter price, this is a steal. It’s even competitively priced at the $29 suggested retail price if you miss out on the Kickstarter. This is an aluminum dock (which is pretty much indestructible) at plastic prices. It comes in three colors: silver, black, and a very Livid Lobster-friendly red. The finish seemed very scratch resistant on the red one. The form fitting Micro USB cable is included. Projected shipment is in July of this year, but with any crowdfunded project, that may change. The Kickstarter campaign runs through May 4th.
The Arq dock is simple, yet brilliant. It’s well made and designed. It’s a flexible mount that saves you a lot of space on your desk. It should work with pretty much any device and with most cases. At the new price of $19, the value simply cannot be beat. In fact, the only thing I don’t like about the Arq Dock is that I have to send them back. Curse you 2040 Studio for making me love them. If you’re looking for an affordable dock, this is a Kickstarter campaign to back.
- Very well made
- Ultra-Affordable for Aluminum
- Choice of 3 Colors
- Works with almost any device and case
- Keeps phones and tablets secure
- Easy setup
- Keeps secure to surface
- Multiple Arq Docks can fit in a small area
- Comes with MicroUSB Cable (Lightning not included)
- May take the finish off some desks
- The stylus support pin doesn’t make a very comfortable stylus
- Over-tightening might damage cable
- I got nothin’