Review: Material Dock by Studio Neat
Recently I’ve been testing out the Material Dock for iPhone & Apple Watch. It’s made by Studio Neat, a company comprised of designers Tom Gerhardt and Dan Provost.
The Material Dock is a tidy little platform for charging any Lightning-powered iPhone alongside an Apple Watch and its little charging puck. (There’s an iPhone-only version as well.) Studio Neat’s website is clear: there’s some assembly required. But as with everything I’ve observed from Tom & Dan, no detail — including assembly — has gone unconsidered.
When you open the box, you’re greeted by a thoughtful smiley face and a pleasant ‘hi there’ on a paper insert. There’s a note to head over to Studio Neat’s website and check out these assembly instructions. You’ll also find a helpful video that walks you through the assembly process.
All in all, it’s a simple package. There’s the walnut base, cork inserts, a tiny Phillips head screwdriver, and a plastic capsule containing necessary hardware. First reaction: knowing what I know about Studio Neat, I’m not surprised by the attention to detail here. The free screwdriver is weighty in the hand and feels like far more than a cheap add-on. And the hardware container seems even nicer than it should be. How accustomed I’ve become to those crappy plastic baggies from IKEA.
I have to say, I enjoyed the process of putting together the Material Dock. How often do you actually ever put something together before using it? I like making things, and I found it very gratifying to walk through the process at my kitchen table.
The walnut base is super attractive and the cork inserts are a nice complement. Although by its very nature the cork feels less solid than I’d like. While the Apple Watch cork piece is in the same spot for all, the other cork bumper slides to match the phone’s width. As long as Apple retains the Lightning connector — which it should, at least in the near term — you’re good to go.
With its micro suction base, there’s a certain amount of permanence to using the Material Dock. Sure, you can move it, but once in place, Material Dock stays put. You’ll need to bring your own Lightning phone charging cable and Watch charging cable. I travel for work sometimes, so I had to go ahead and buy another Watch cable to keep in my bag. An extra cable is always a good thing to have on hand.
My only quibble with the setup process was the how my Apple Lightning cable fit into the base of the dock. Fun fact: Studio Neat designed in cable channels to allow the dock to sit flush on the surface. But you end up with a 90° angle where the Lightning cable comes down and makes its turn into its channel. My cable was pretty stiff, so I’m concerned about the strain that might be putting on the wire at that right angle. It’s not like I plan to move the dock all the time, so I’m guessing it won’t be an issue.
I suctioned my Material Dock to the corner of my nightstand and within arms’ reach. I bump the table and get Nightstand Mode to light up on my watch, which is perfect. And the phone is far enough out of reach that silencing my alarm is the right amount of annoying to get me out of bed.
All in all, I’m impressed by what Studio Neat has made in the Material Dock. It works as advertised. I’ve been a fan items made out of wood since I watched Norm Abrams rock out on The New Yankee Workshop on PBS when I was a kid. Using modern tech with all its metal & glass alongside the warmth of materials like wood & cork is a treat.
If you’d like to pick up the Material Dock, you can buy the iPhone + Watch version for $70 and the iPhone-only edition for $45.
Tom & Dan from Studio Neat were gracious enough to provide me with a Material Dock for the purposes of this honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.