The design is quite nice. The iTango is round and raises up toward the middle, a demi-sphere that seems to slightly reflect the design of an Apple Mighty Mouse. It has some weight, provided by the grey-metal base: you know that when you have your iPod in its dock that it’s unlikely to topple over. The packaging amply shows the design: it’s the kind of product a casual buyer may see on the shelves and pop into their basket. Or click on the “Add to shopping cart” button if they come across it online. It’s a dock for the second- or first-generation iPod nano and it costs under a tenner – it’s a bargain, right? Wrong.
The problem with this product is that it’s not really a dock. Sure, the design says it is an iPod product, indeed, the packaging proclaims it. That’s until you read the small print on the back.
You see, just underneath the images showing how compatible the dock is, and promising potential purchasers that the solution offers “clutter-free docking” because you can “retract excess cable length into the dock”, you’ll find the small print. The small print is much smaller than the URL, and is conveniently situated beside the bar code. Douglas Adams might call this the visual equivalent of putting small print dealing with the demolition of the Planet Earth in a filing cabinet in an office light years away. He might, you know.
So what does this small print say? If you read it before you buy the device, you’ll learn the dock: “Requires a standard iPod connection cable. Cable not included.” Read that again, if you like.
You see, what you get for your tenner is the well-designed case of a dock, but (presumably in order to avoid having to pay money to join Apple’s ‘Made for iPod’ scheme) this particular solution is a DIY-dock building kit. You’re meant to take the docking cable you got when you bought your iPod, open the iTango up and insert it into place. Once you have done this you do (granted) have a dock, but you don’t have a spare cable, and you’ve paid a tenner for a lump of plastic and metal to encase the cable (which itself costs £15 from Apple). And the retractability? Don’t expect any winding system to achieve this. When you put your cable in you’re expected to wind it up manually until you have the length sticking out you require. Then you snap the two halves of the ‘system’ together, and presto – a dock, total cost including cable: £24.99.
This product gains two stars, rather than the one star we save for spectacularly unimpressive products. It gains its extra star for the moderately attractive design, and if you like it and have a spare cable, then you may like iTango.