Review: Parotec InSync Apple Ipad charging and synchronising case.
by, 15th March 2013 at 03:10 PM (7138 Views)
One of the schools I am working at ordered one of these about six months ago. It was bought through an Apple reseller along with a number of Ipads (15). The cost of the device was not cheap! So lets see what you get for your money. There are 16 slots for ipads and one larger slot for a laptop, 16 short charge/synch cables, an internal 240V socket for the laptop charger and an external 240V supply socket.
The external case appears to be made from extremely tough ABS type moulded plastic. There are numerous strengthening ridges around the outside and areas of potential damage like the corners have additional material to strengthen them further. Four sturdy clasps lock the lid onto the body and the area of contact between the two halves is made with a rubber seal which sits within a female channel on the lid. This interlocks with a small ridge on the lower rim that will provide additional rigidity to the whole case when closed. There are three handles with metal pins and one retractible handle for 'tow along' use when using the integrated wheels. I would say that the case would certainly be shower proof if you were caught in the rain between buildings, and I suspect it would withstand more. Everything about the outside of the case is extremely well designed and manufactured.
On the inside of the lid there is a foam covering presumably to stop the Ipads moving around excessively if the case were to roll onto its top or fall downstairs. The hinge is made to the same design as the handles with metal pins running within the abs enclosures. The lid will only open just past ninety degrees, even with a sturdy hinge this could be a weakness should any pressure be put on the lid beyond its maximum travel.
The slots are made from a sheet of perspex like material with stacked layers of foam below . Initially we could not fit the ipads into the slots with the cases on (STM Skinny) so we had to return the unit via our supplier to have the larger facia installed. It took about a month to turn this around even though the company are only 5 miles away. With out cases the screens would constantly be in contact with the perspex surround and would probably not be good for them long term.
The case cannot be closed whilst connected to 240V or USB, as there is no cut away to allow for wires to pass through the case. I was told that in order to get "Apple Approval" this is one of the stipulations to prevent heat build up apparently. It's annoying that you cant charge the unit with the lid closed, it means you cant really leave the case unattended while it charges or keep it within a secure room. The electronics below the power area are vented by two small fan ducts when on 240V power. When plugged in the Ipad2s report "not charging" as they presumably are detecting insufficient power. This is well documented on the web for none apple chargers, the good news is that it actually is charging, but I suspect slower than if the device was plugged straight into a mains adaptor. I noted approximately a 5% gain on one Ipad during an hour (all the other devices were at %100). I'll have to compare this to a mains charge some time. But It means that you will need to leave your case lid open for longer than you would expect.
The cables that plug in to the ipad are about 20CM long, this is just enough to remove the ipad from its slot whilst still plugged in, but it is very easy to dislodge so don't attempt it while syncing! These cables are the device's Achilles heal, they are easily trapped in the closure system mentioned above. Cables near to the hinge side have been caught more than once leaving a dent in the cable. Easy enough to keep an eye one if you are aware, but hinge cover would definitely be an idea to improve this design. The charge cables are easily knocked out if moving ipads around so you need to keep checking they are seated correctly. Also it is difficult to spot which way around the cable should be I may mark one side of them so you can see at a glance which way to plug it in.
As for syncing the Insync behaves as though it were a powered USB Hub, which it basically is. When you plug the devices in they apear one after the other in Itunes on the IMac (I have not tried this on a Windows Machine it might not work like this, if at all). In Itunes you have all the functionality that you would with one device. you can update IOS, take and restore backup and synchronise applications. I choose not to sync photos, I am attempting to do that via dropbox to a windows server but that's another story!
So 10 out of 10 for ruggedness, but the internal design could be improved. Electrically you might be better off with an extension lead and splitters, although less tidy it would be a lot cheaper! I understand that OSX 10.7 Lion allows syncing over wifi. I haven't tried this yet, but it may be an option rather than plugging in the USB.
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