Now that the Apple Watch has been out for nearly a month, accessories are starting to arrive in droves. Among the most highly anticpated are the charging docks that make it possible to make your Watch charging setup look more classy than just having that cable and “puck” running to the back of your smartwatch. Antsy Labs of Denver, Colorado has a great-looking and functional dock named Duet ($99, available now for a $79 pledge) that is getting Kickstarter funding right now, and with three weeks to go the campaign has already exceeed its goal. Matt and Mark from Antsy sent Apple World Today a prototype to try out, and here’s our review.
The basic idea behind the Duet is that it can charge both your Apple Watch and iPhone simultaneously. Expertly machined from aluminum, the dock will come in three finishes: silver, space gray, and gold. It’s quite attractive, with smooth angles and a nice, precise look to it. There’s a stretch goal to provide a matte black Duet, and the team may consider some other colors as well.
There are two parts to the Duet — an iPhone stand and an Apple Watch stand — that magnetically lock together to form a single solid unit. The iPhone stand is a nice, chunky block of aluminum with nanosuction material on the bottom so once you’ve placed it on a desk or nightstand it’s unlikely to move. The stand works with all iPhone 5 and 6 models and works with a number of cases. The production model will have a removable door on the bottom for snaking your Lightning charge cable into a hole in the bottom of the cutout for the iPhone.
The other part is the Apple Watch stand, which is a one-piece aluminum arm with a disk-shaped cutout for the Watch charger and a precisely-machined channel for snaking the cable around the back of the arm. As with the iPhone stand, the Apple Watch stand also has nanosuction material on the bottom so it will stay put. Placing the Watch and iPhone stands next to each other causes them to line up and stick together magnetically.
So why didn’t the design team just create one nice big block of aluminum instead of two pieces? The idea is that both pieces can serve individually if that’s what you want to do — for example, you may wish to use the iPhone dock at your desk and the Apple Watch dock on your nightstand. The design also allows the Watch “arm” to be manufactured in two configurations — one that works on the left side of the iPhone stand and one that works on the right. You state your preference when ordering to get the right or left configuration.
As with most of the shipping and prototype Watch charging stands we’ve seen so far, the Duet uses your own cables. This makes easy placement of the cables in the various nooks and crannies a must. The designers noted that they were expecting the Apple Watch charging cable to be a smaller diameter than it actually is, so it was a tight fit trying to get the cable inserted into my prototype. This will be resolved with production models.
If there’s anything I’d like the team to do, it’s to make the magnets that link the two parts together more powerful. My cats have a tendency to wander around a lot and a stronger link will make it less likely that my Watch and the Duet’s “arm” will become cat toys.
The fine construction of the Duet prototype gives me confidence that the team will be able to meet its goal of shipping the docks in August.
Charging docks are going to be one of the more popular Watch accessories, and we’re seeing some excellent early designs. The Duet has a simple solid elegance to it that doesn’t detract from the beauty of the Apple Watch and iPhone but instead reinforces the work of Jony Ive and crew. The flexibility of the design means it will fit in perfectly in any situation, whether you keep the two pieces together or use them separately. Note that my rating is based on how I expect the final product to work, not on the prototype with its cable sizing issues.