Review: Griffin’s WatchStand is a tall, cheap way to dual-dock your Apple Watch and iPhone

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I respect any accessory developer who attempts to solve a legitimate problem, and admire developers who find smart ways to solve multiple problems simultaneously. Unlike many competing Apple Watch stands, Griffin Technology’s new WatchStand thinks past the initial challenge of mounting your watch, and also includes a place for your iPhone to rest on your nightstand. As you’ll see in my guide to the best Apple Watch stands and docks, it’s impossible to find a combination Watch and iPhone stand at a lower price: normally $30 via Amazon, WatchStand is currently on sale for only $22.49 direct from Griffin if you use discount code MEMORIALDAY at checkout.

As that low price suggests, however, WatchStand makes compromises in both materials and functionality. Built primarily from plastic with a rubber core, it’s certain not to scratch a stainless steel or gold Apple Watch. But would you actually want to use it with one of Apple’s more expensive timepieces? That’s another question…

Key Details:

  • 4.2″ square by 7″ tall stand holds an Apple Watch 6″ up, plus any iPhone resting on its side
  • You self-supply the Apple Watch Magnetic Charging Cable (and iPhone-ready Lightning Cable)
  • Substantially plastic parts with a rubber cord-managing core
  • Slightly tricky one-time assembly
  • Affordable by dock standards

 

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WatchStand arrives as a set of five mostly plastic parts: a heavily weighted black glossy plastic base that looks like a flattened Apple TV with a hole in the center, a matching glossy pipe, a rubber cable-managing core for the pipe, a glossy cap for the core, and an optional semi-circular rubber insert. As with all Apple Watch stands released to date, you need to self-supply one of Apple’s official Apple Watch Magnetic Charging Cables yourself. WatchStand thoughtfully accommodates either 1-meter or 2-meter cable lengths, as well as the all-plastic Sport and partially metal regular Magnetic Charging pucks.

Start by pulling the USB plug through the top Not the right way to wind the cable The right way to wind the cable

Installation is fairly simple: stick the Magnetic Charging Cable’s USB plug through the center of the rubber core, wind the cable around spiraling grooves on the core, leave enough cable loose to connect the plug to a self-supplied wall charger, and stick the core into the hard plastic pipe to hide the cable. The glossy plastic cap should passively snap into place inside the pipe as they come together, and the pipe then attaches to the base, without permanently locking together. If you’re using the Apple Watch Sport’s plastic charging puck, Griffin’s optional semi-circular insert won’t be necessary, but Apple’s thinner metal pucks require the insert so that they’ll stick out enough from WatchStand to make a secure magnetic connection with a Watch.

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The only challenges WatchStand presented during installation were modest, namely getting the cord to stick firmly enough in the grooves not to bunch up when I installed the outer pipe, bringing the glossy plastic cap as close as possible to the pipe, and picking the right cord length for connection to a charger. For most users, these will be one-time issues, and quickly resolved. Although the glossy Watch-holding pipe won’t detach from the base during normal use with your Watch, you can easily separate them to adjust the cable or charging puck during initial setup.

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The bigger question is whether WatchStand’s design and functionality will appeal to your personal needs and sensibilities. Unlike many of WatchStand’s rivals, any Apple Watch with a closed loop-style band will need to be mounted and charged on its side, which is a bit unusual; open bands can instead dangle behind and in front of the 30-degree-angled top surface, a more natural mounting position. On the other hand, Griffin offers greater cable management and versatility than with some other stands: four large rubber feet on WatchStand’s bottom have gaps between them to let you place the USB cable in whatever direction you prefer, which can be handy when dealing with shorter 1-meter cables or substantially wound 2-meter cables.

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WatchStand’s height and footprint may be polarizing for some people. Several readers opined that Mophie’s Watch Dock, which I reviewed yesterday, elevated the Apple Watch too much — and that was only 3.5 inches up. By comparison, the much larger 4.2″ square by 7″ tall WatchStand lifts the Apple Watch 6 full inches above your nightstand, a height that users could either find ideal or way too tall. The height appears to have been picked to provide ample room for any iPhone to lay on its side below. I’ve personally never wanted to leave my iPhone in this position, but Griffin places a secure lip on the edge to prevent it from slipping off, and you can self-supply a Lightning cable for charging. From my perspective, a side-by-side and more integrated iPhone/Apple Watch docking and charging solution would make more sense, but for $30 or less, this is the sort of solution you can expect.

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In the final analysis, the strongest feature of Griffin’s WatchStand is its aggressive pricing, which is fair at $30, and particularly appealing with Griffin’s current 25% off MEMORIALDAY discount code. That makes it nearly as affordable as Spigen’s simple metal S330 stand, and a lot less expensive than other combination iPhone/Apple Watch docking solutions. Because of its tall, plastic frame and passive approach to holding the iPhone, it will be a better fit for budget-conscious users than design obsessives, but it earns a little bonus credit for trying to kill two birds with one stone, and mostly succeeding.

Manufacturer:
Griffin Technology
MSRP / Sale Prices:
$30 (Amazon) / $22.49 (Griffin Direct)
Compatibility:
Apple Watch

Filed under: Apple Watch, Reviews Tagged: Apple watch, Apple Watch dock, Griffin, WatchStand

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How gadgets helped me go from dad bod to six pack

I used to live the classic geek lifestyle, forever hunched over a MacBook, munching on comfort food. Until one day cancer forced me to take my health more seriously. Now I run marathons and lift weights for fun. But the






Review: Kanex USB-C to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter solves the WiFi dead zone problem for the 12-inch MacBook

Kanex USB-C to Ethernet

Adapters for adding thicker ports are nothing new for Apple’s modern line of notebooks. Even the high-end Retina MacBook Pro decidedly excludes a direct Ethernet connection, and Apple’s MacBook Air and new ultrathin 12-inch MacBook are especially too thin for a wired connection to the Internet without relying on an adapter in the middle.

While modern WiFi is fine for most everyday situations, even Apple acknowledges that a wired connection is necessary in some instances. To remedy this, it sells a $29 USB Ethernet Adapter and a faster $29 Thunderbolt to Ethernet Adapter. The 12-inch MacBook has neither port, however, additionally requiring Apple’s $19 USB-C to USB Adapter to work with the slower adapter.

Fortunately with USB-C being a new industry standard, accessory makers like Kanex are ready with solutions like the $29.95 USB-C to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter made for the new 12-inch MacBook and other USB-C computers…

Key Details:

  • Adds gigabit Ethernet to Apple’s 12-inch MacBook
  • Useful for WiFi dead zones
  • Plug-and-play compatibility, no setup required
  • Cable length measures 11.5 inches
  • Available in white like Apple adapters
  • Also works with Google Chromebook Pixel

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At first glance you may mistake Kanex USB-C to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter for some sort of mystical Lightning to Ethernet adapter for iPhones and iPads, but at its core it’s a USB 3.0 dongle with a super thin connector end met with a rather thick brickish end with an Ethernet port.

This is absolutely the first time my MacBook has been connected to a wired Internet connection since it shipped in April. That seems crazy but it’s handy to have a way to connect directly on occassion. Busy work days when streaming a spotty Apple live stream, when on the phone with technical support with my Internet service provider, and if I need to connect to another machine over the Ethernet line to name a few.

Kanex USB-C to Gigabit Ethernet

Kanex’s USB-C to Gigabit Ethernet adapter looks very similar to Apple’s own adapters, although the plastic shell is a shade closer to gray than Apple’s bright white cables and adapters; my first thought is that this might combat discoloring over time. The RJ45 end of the adapter is a bit bulkier than Apple’s standard USB adapters, measuring 1.25-inches wide by 2.5-inches long by 0.25 inches thick.

Kanex USB-C to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter 6 Kanex USB-C to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter 7

The overall length of Kanex’s USB-C to Gigabit Ethernet adapter measures 11.5-inches in total. In comparison, Apple’s USB Ethernet Adapter measures 8-inches long, or 12.75-inches long when attached to Apple’s USB-C to USB Adapter. The length of your data cable is what’s most important when connecting directly to a router or modem, but Kanex’s adapter lets the RJ45 end hang freely from the USB-C end with flexibility.

Kanex USB-C to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter 5

While most of the adapter resembles the USB-C Charge Cable bundled with the new MacBook, the RJ45 end of it makes it obvious why the ultra thin notebook doesn’t include an Ethernet port: it’s much thicker than even the thickest part of the entire MacBook. The thickness is comparable to two iPhone 6s stacked.

Kanex USB-C to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter 3 Kanex USB-C to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter 2

Not apparent until you see it in action, Kanex’s USB-C to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter hides two status indicator lights inside — something you won’t find in either of Apple’s USB Ethernet adapters. Both indicator lights glow soft green when connected. One presumably shows connection in general as it remains solid when connected, although it remained green when I removed the Ethernet cable between the modem and the router. The other indicator light pulses at various speeds based on data transfer speeds. A mostly idle machine shows a slower flash while opening multiple Safari tabs creates a constant flash until all the pages have loaded.

Kanex USB-C to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter

Kanex’s USB-C to Gigabit Ethernet works entirely as expected with the only surprise being the green status indicator lights. If flashing lights are too distracting and un-Apple for you, you can pay the premium and buy separate USB-C to USB and USB to Ethernet Adapters, but Kanex’s solution is one of the first available and provides a gigabit ethernet port for the same price that Apple sells its Thunderbolt Gigabit Ethernet adapter.

If you’re looking to add access to an RJ45 port on your new MacBook for frequent or occasional use, especially during conference season (and for quickly downloading new software betas), Kanex’s solution is a fine one for a reasonable price. The biggest issue comes when you need to use both ethernet and power, as the MacBook features only one port; a hub-style adapter like Anker revealed this week would be ideal in this instance, although it may be reaching edge-case territory.

Manufacturer:
Kanex
MSRP:
$29.95
Compatibility:
12-inch MacBook

Filed under: AAPL Company Tagged: 12-inch MacBook, 12-inch MacBook accessories, Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet Adapter, internet, MacBook, MacBook accessories, MacBook Ethernet, MacBook Gigabit Ethernet, USB-C, USB-C adapter, Wi-Fi, wifi

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