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iPhone Dock Review: Element Case Vapor Dock

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Several months ago I wrote about the Element Case Vapor Pro “Black Ops” Limited Edition iPhone Case.  Long story short, I like it.  I don’t think it’s perfect, but I think it’s really nice, far nicer than most of the stuff out there that’s created to do the same job.  Expensive, yes, but still nice.  Well, the nice folks at Element Case have now come out with something they call the Vapor Dock.  It is, essentially, a pretty nice dock for your iPhone/iPod touch, and again, far nicer than most of the stuff out there created to achieve the same result. 

Made of precision machined aluminum, the chunky little Vapor Dock proves to have great heft, feeling far more sturdy in your hand than a typical cheap-o plastic dock.  It is small enough to be relatively unobtrusive, but still looks nice when noticed.  A USBVapor Dock iPhone cable is also attached to it so that it can be plugged directly into your computer or into an AC adaptor (it doesn’t come with the adaptor bit).  Additionally, the cord is screwed into the base so that should it ever have to be replaced, it can be without the entire device being destroyed.  And, keeping with Element Case’s eye for style, the Vapor Dock can accommodate iPhones in a large variety of cases (or sans case) by replacing a small, mostly hidden, piece that sits just behind the phone.

Also in keeping with much of what Element Case seems to do, the Dock isn’t cheap – it is currently priced at $119.99 on their website.  That is certainly a pretty penny, but, again, it is also far nicer than just about every choice you can find on a trip to the Apple Store (or perusing Amazon).

When I wrote about the Vapor Pro case I noted that it’s main shortfall was that it really needs a lip around the front so as to give the illusion of a better fit.  It is a small thing, but had it been done, it would be a far nicer product.  The Vapor Dock has a different nagging issue, but it’s again something that ought to have been considered.  These design inconsistencies are odd given the amount of thought and energy that has clearly gone into the rest of the product.

Here, with the Vapor Dock, the problem is as follows — while the dock has nice heft (238 grams), that weight isn’t distributed properly.  Too Vapor Dockmuch of the weight sits in the back of the dock, which means that trying to lift the phone out of it or trying to utilize the phone when it is sitting in the dock all too-easily leads to tipping it the phone and dock over.  In short, more weight really needs to be up front on the device, if it were, we’d have no complaints whatsoever.

Now, it appears as though the base itself has speakers in it to amplify sound coming from your phone, this is not exactly the case though.  There are holes (and “tuned air chambers”) in the front of the dock which funnel sound from the phone.  The result is that there is no noticeable sound decrease when the iPhone is sitting in the dock.  It may, perhaps, sound slightly more full, but it really isn’t the sort of thing that will either attract one to the device or cause one to reject it.

One of the nicer details to the Vapor Dock is that the underside of the piece is hollow.  This allows for the user to be able to wrap extra cord around it the interior and thereby keep one’s desk neat and tidy (something with which I certainly need a bit of help).  This is one of those small considerations which really make the Vapor Dock a nice piece.

In the end, is it a perfect little dock?  No, the weight issue is troubling and one has a little difficultly imagining that when the product was being tested the issue didn’t arise.  However, despite this weight distribution oversight, I still really like the Vapor Dock and think that anyone who doesn’t mind spending  the cash on it will be exceptionally happy with the result.

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About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.