Review: Logi Base Smart Connector charging dock is the best way to juice your iPad Pro

Posted:
in iPad edited April 2016
MagSafe has long been a defining feature of Apple's market leading notebooks. Thanks to the Smart Connector charging capabilities first introduced by the new Logi Base dock for iPad Pro, Apple's iDevices now have their own convenient MagSafe equivalent.




Apple has been coy about what the iPad Pro Smart Connector can do -- up until this week, it was only used with a pair of keyboard accessories. But the launch of the Logi Base has revealed that the Smart Connector can also be used to receive power, allowing a new way to charge the iPad Pro.

For this review, Logitech provided AppleInsider with a sample unit of the Logi Base. The dock is currently available, and priced at $99.99 direct from Logitech.

Design



Broad enough to safely hold your iPad Pro in place in landscape mode, heavy enough to stay put when you remove your iPad, and with a strong anti-slip pad on the bottom, the Logi Base is a quality accessory.

The Base is made of what Logitech claims is high-grade aluminum. It's definitely solid and attractive.




The unit's points of contact with the iPad Pro are covered by a thin polycarbonate layer to prevent scratches. On the bottom one is the Smart Connector port, where you'll align it with your tablet to charge.

Around back, the Base has a female Lightning port where you can plug in any standard Lightning cable. The Base does not ship with a cable or a wall adapter.




The hardware is Made for iPad certified, and Logitech has recently developed a close working relationship with Apple on Smart Connector accessories for the iPad Pro. Currently, the Logi Base is the first of its kind, and the only way to charge your iPad Pro via the Smart Connector.

If we have any knocks against the Logi Base design, they would be that the dock is a little on the larger side when compared to traditional Lightning docks, and that it doesn't allow you to adjust the 70-degree viewing angle for your iPad Pro if you want to use it while docked. Frankly, we don't think either of these are much of a concern, but buyers should at least be aware of the limitations of the hardware.

Usage



Docking an iPad Pro onto the Logi Base is a snap. Because the Smart Connector port is magnetic, your iPad will help align itself when docked, and will securely stay in place.

If you own an Apple Silicone Case for iPad Pro, the Logi Base works perfectly fine. And any case that leaves the Smart Connector port properly exposed should also work.




If you have an Apple Smart Keyboard or Smart Cover, you'll need to detach them from the iPad Pro in order to charge on the Logi Base. In their current iterations, Apple's "smart" accessories do not allow a Smart Connector passthrough.

The Logi Base has an input/output rating of 5.2 volts, 2.4 amps. It takes longer to charge through the Smart Connector than it does a direct Lightning connection -- an estimated 7 hours for the larger 12.9-inch iPad Pro with Apple's standard 12-watt power adapter and no apps running in the background. The smaller 9.7-inch iPad Pro should take about 5 hours to charge.

Logitech says charging should be done via an electrical outlet, and USB port charging is "not recommended at this time." That verbiage suggests that Apple could potentially tweak the capabilities of the Smart Connector with future iOS updates.




The truth is, we don't really know what the technical limitations of the Smart Connector port are at the moment. It's unclear whether the charging rates of the Logi Base are a result of the dock itself, or if the Smart Connector port is being pushed to its limits.

For example, the larger 12.9-inch iPad Pro is capable of charging at a much faster 29 watts with the proper wall adapter and Lightning to USB-C cable. However, the Logi Base won't take advantage of those faster charging abilities if connected to the proper cable and adapter.




In addition, even though the Smart Connector is capable of transferring data, connecting Apple's Lightning to USB Camera Adapter to the female Lightning port on the Logi Base does nothing. Neither the 9.7- or 12.9-inch iPad Pro recognize the accessory once connected, meaning the dock is power-only -- for now.

We'd like to see power-plus-data capabilities come to the Logi Base -- and other Smart Connector accessories -- in the future. For example, if it were possible, leaving a USB adapter and power plugged into the Logi Base could allow users to quickly dock, charge and use accessories with the iPad Pro in a pinch. There's a lot of potential here, and we're excited to see where it goes.

Conclusion



Priced at $100, the Logi Base may carry sticker shock for budget-minded consumers. But there are plenty of other docks priced similarly, such as the Elevation Dock or the Mophie Desktop Dock.

Still, $100 for a dock that charges slower than Lightning will be a dealbreaker for some, so this accessory isn't for everyone.

For us, the convenience of Smart Connector charging and the quality construction of the Logi Base justify the price.




If you're an avid Apple Pencil user, the Logi Base also has the added benefit of allowing you to charge the iPad Pro and the Pencil, through the iPad's Lightning port, simultaneously. We think this alone will be a huge benefit for artists.

There is some room for improvement. It would be nice to offer adjustable viewing angles, and supporting simultaneous power and data transfer would be a benefit for some.

Still, after a week of using the Logi Base, it's quickly become our preferred way to charge the iPad Pro. Recommended.

Score: 4 out of 5



Pros

  • The most convenient way to charge your iPad Pro
  • Works with both 9.7- and 12.9-inch models
  • Works with the Lightning cable and power adapter you already have
  • Sturdy and well designed, and doesn't move when you remove your iPad


Cons
  • No support for data (yet)
  • Charges slower than a direct Lightning connection
  • $99.99 price


Where to buy



The Logi Base is available to purchase from Logitech for $99.99. It ships for free.

aaronsullivan

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 19
    I find myself using the pro 12.9 as a second screen for a MacBook quite frequently (using duet). The angle seems nicely steeper with this. I know I'd be more likely to keep the iPad charged if I could just place it on there. It's tempting.

    One problem is that the Create case I use would have to be removed and attached each time. Its an interesting new set of options. I rarely work at my computer desk anymore (at home) despite the extra power and mouse.

    I do like where this smart connector stuff is headed and I bet those rumors about it being on the back of iPhone 7 devices are true.
  • Reply 2 of 19
    stevenozstevenoz Posts: 211member
    I might be tempted if they up'd it to 29W for the large iPad Pro for faster charging.
    edited April 2016
  • Reply 3 of 19
    nhughesnhughes Posts: 749editor
    stevenoz said:
    I might be tempted if they up'd it to 29W for the large iPad Pro for faster charging.
    Nobody is saying what the smart connector can handle. 29w may not be possible with the current hardware. 
  • Reply 4 of 19
    Curious what you have on Apple Pencil in photos and how it's connected to iPad.  
  • Reply 5 of 19
    nhughesnhughes Posts: 749editor
    davepbass said:
    Curious what you have on Apple Pencil in photos and how it's connected to iPad.  
    It's a magnetic sleeve that allows the pencil to stick to the right side of the iPad. We should have a review up in the near future. For about $20, I'm pretty happy with it. 

    http://www.moxiware.com/products/apple-pencil-magnet
  • Reply 6 of 19
    I don't suppose you can use this and the 29 watt lightning to charge at the 41 watts
  • Reply 7 of 19
    pmzpmz Posts: 3,433member

    If you have an Apple Smart Keyboard or Smart Cover, you'll need to detach them from the iPad Pro in order to charge on the Logi Base.
    And there you have the reason why this is made by Logitech, and not Apple. No thanks.

    Hardly the "most convenient way" to charge an iPad Pro. With a Smart Keyboard case that never comes off my iPad, and Lightning cables everywhere in the house, for me it would certainly be the most inconvenient way.
  • Reply 8 of 19
    nhughesnhughes Posts: 749editor
    pmz said:

    If you have an Apple Smart Keyboard or Smart Cover, you'll need to detach them from the iPad Pro in order to charge on the Logi Base.
    And there you have the reason why this is made by Logitech, and not Apple. No thanks.

    Hardly the "most convenient way" to charge an iPad Pro. With a Smart Keyboard case that never comes off my iPad, and Lightning cables everywhere in the house, for me it would certainly be the most inconvenient way.
    The iPad Pro does not ship with a keyboard case or cover. This is the most convenient way to charge your iPad -- not your iPad with accessories. 
    eliangonzalpscooter63
  • Reply 9 of 19
    stevenozstevenoz Posts: 211member
    nhughes said:
    stevenoz said:
    I might be tempted if they up'd it to 29W for the large iPad Pro for faster charging.
    Nobody is saying what the smart connector can handle. 29w may not be possible with the current hardware. 
    If you read the article it says, "... the larger 12.9-inch iPad Pro is capable of charging at a much faster 29 watts with the proper wall adapter and Lightning to USB-C cable. However, the Logi Base won't take advantage of those faster charging abilities if connected to the proper cable and adapter."
  • Reply 10 of 19
    nhughesnhughes Posts: 749editor
    stevenoz said:
    nhughes said:
    Nobody is saying what the smart connector can handle. 29w may not be possible with the current hardware. 
    If you read the article it says, "... the larger 12.9-inch iPad Pro is capable of charging at a much faster 29 watts with the proper wall adapter and Lightning to USB-C cable. However, the Logi Base won't take advantage of those faster charging abilities if connected to the proper cable and adapter."
    Yes, I wrote the review. The Lightning port on the 12.9" iPad Pro can accept a 29W charge because it is a USB 3 port. The 9.7" iPad Pro is USB 2 and cannot charge at that rate. No one knows what the technical limitations of the *Smart Connector* are. Does it offer 29W charging? Nobody has said. We don't know. But the Logi Base doesn't support it. 
    eliangonzal
  • Reply 11 of 19
    oakieoakie Posts: 35member
    too bad Apple didnt include pass-through smart connector pins on the current smart keyboard's spine. i get the feeling "smart keyboard, v2" is in the pipeline.
  • Reply 12 of 19
    It's a very interesting accessory, more so because of what it might represent, and that is a large and growing world of devices that take advantage of the smart connector on iOS devices. Interesting it's a lightning connection, and not a straight USB connection of some sort on the back of this thing, is that only because it allowed them not to have to ship a separate cable, or did they make that decision for some other reason?

    The possibilities of the smart connector are very exciting indeed, I'm imagining a rich world arriving over the coming months (and years). :smiley: 
    nhughes
  • Reply 13 of 19
    pmzpmz Posts: 3,433member
    nhughes said:
    pmz said:
    And there you have the reason why this is made by Logitech, and not Apple. No thanks.

    Hardly the "most convenient way" to charge an iPad Pro. With a Smart Keyboard case that never comes off my iPad, and Lightning cables everywhere in the house, for me it would certainly be the most inconvenient way.
    The iPad Pro does not ship with a keyboard case or cover. This is the most convenient way to charge your iPad -- not your iPad with accessories. 
    Well thats the dumbest fucking thing I've ever read.
    You've been on a roll lately with just shitty opinions, shitty takes on every topic, and then diving into the comments when your shitty opinion isn't agreed with.

    As I said, it is incredibly obvious why Apple has not made any stands, docks, or otherwise that charge the iPad this way. Obvious to some, anyway.
    edited May 2016
  • Reply 14 of 19
    nhughesnhughes Posts: 749editor
    pmz said:
    nhughes said:
    The iPad Pro does not ship with a keyboard case or cover. This is the most convenient way to charge your iPad -- not your iPad with accessories. 
    Well thats the dumbest fucking thing I've ever read.
    You've been on a roll lately with just shitty opinions, shitty takes on every topic, and then diving into the comments when your shitty opinion isn't agreed with.

    As I said, it is incredibly obvious why Apple has not made any stands, docks, or otherwise that charge the iPad this way. Obvious to some, anyway.
    You're welcome to disagree all you want, but if you can't be civil or polite, we don't want you here.
    BSheewilliamlondon
  • Reply 15 of 19
    BSheeBShee Posts: 1member
    nhughes said:
    pmz said:
    Well thats the dumbest fucking thing I've ever read.
    You've been on a roll lately with just shitty opinions, shitty takes on every topic, and then diving into the comments when your shitty opinion isn't agreed with.

    As I said, it is incredibly obvious why Apple has not made any stands, docks, or otherwise that charge the iPad this way. Obvious to some, anyway.
    You're welcome to disagree all you want, but if you can't be civil or polite, we don't want you here.
    Exactly.  Thank you, NHughes.
    nhugheswilliamlondon
  • Reply 16 of 19
    bestkeptsecretbestkeptsecret Posts: 3,034member
    Sad to see PMZ banned.
  • Reply 17 of 19
    k2kwk2kw Posts: 1,396member

    The possibilities of the smart connector are very exciting indeed, I'm imagining a rich world arriving over the coming months (and years). :smiley: 
    I've waited for Apple to make the lightening connection ubiquitous. - to really push it into to a ton of accessories.   I just never happened.   Like many apple technologies it was introduced and then languished.      

    For iPhones I would like to see USB 3.1 Type C charging speeds and wireless charging builtin.     Bring it on the Lightning connector of which I've bought plenty of expensive apple wires.    Don't have an interest in another connector.

    The reviewed unit would be better if it also had a lightning connector on it so that it could charge in Portrait mode.
  • Reply 18 of 19
    Thanks for the review...

    What else is out there that can charge the iPad Pro 9.7 via the Smart Connector?

    I’m ooking for a case that can charge via Smart Connector. 


  • Reply 19 of 19
    Thank you for the review xD
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