Several companies at this week's Macworld/iWorld Expo in San Francisco will release docks that can charge and sync multiple iPads. The docks automatically sync the iPads and let managers avoid individual cables and syncing.
Longtime Mac-market vendor Newer Technology will introduce its GripStand Station, which can charge up to 8 iPads simultaneously. Syncing is done via wireless connection. The iPads must be mounted in the company's GripStand cases, sold separately. The 499.95 Station appears to be aimed primarily at the education market, with options for mounting the Station on a desk or table as well as a stainless-steel anti-theft bar.
The company has tested the units in an educational setting and provided some feedback:
Morgan O'Connor, Social Studies Teacher at Lakes Community High School described her experience with GripStand products. "We spent precious funds to purchase 15 Apple iPad 2's that are shared by 240 students each day, so protecting the iPads during student use is a top priority. The GripStand products have definitely prevented accidental damage to the iPads, and I no longer have to worry about iPads sliding off the table. The cases are durable, easy to label and they securely hold and protect the iPad from occasional 'rough use.'"
Another vendor, Parat, will launch its PARASYNC for iPad, which can charge as well as sync content to 10 iPads from one host computer. The company has not announced the pricing, however, the system price will include a set of 10 cases.
I saw a prototype of this system last year and the cases are needed to hold the iPads securely in the charger as well as to prevent the dock connector from being damaged. The system has LED lights that show the status of charging and syncing.
Parat has already shipped PARASYNC for iPhone and iPod Touch. I found an interesting note in its product FAQ. The company suggests that customers use a Mac for syncing not a PC.
Because PARASYNC uses its own UL-listed power supply it does not need to be tethered to a host computer to charge all 20 docked devices. It charges all 20 docked devices regardless if you use it with a Mac or PC .
However, syncing is a different story. We recommend using PARASYNC with a Mac running OS 10.4 or higher. Here's why:
On a Mac, iTunes recognizes and syncs content to all 20 docked devices. With a Mac iTunes can even recognize and sync to multiple PARASYNC docks (with over 100 iPod or iPhone devices showing up in iTunes at once)! We do this with museums, tourist destinations and resorts all around the world.
On a PC, iTunes is only able to sync to 6 - 8 devices at once. This holds true regardless of the system or product that you might use to connect the devices to your PC running iTunes. With that said, there are PC users that absolutely love PARASYNC because they can conveniently charge all 20 docked devices at a time and sync with the PARASYNC populated with 8 devices at a time.