It's always a pleasure to see projects graduate from Kickstarter or Indiegogo and actually become available for sale. One project that was intriguing a few months ago, the Wiplabs iMacompanion (US$39.99), is now in the BiteMyApple.co and Amazon.com stores. iMacompanion is a USB 3.0 extension port that matches the sleek design of the iMac and adds that port to the front of your iMac where it's easy to get to. Here's our review.
The brilliant design of the iMacompanion was what drew me - and a number of backers - to the product on Kickstarter. Rather than clip some sort of USB extension to the front of the iMac like the BlueLounge Jimi ($14.95) where it really doesn't look too much like a part of your computer, the designers at Wiplabs made the iMacompanion match the aluminum base of the iMac where it sits. A completely flat USB 3.0 cable then runs under the iMac base and around to the back of your computer where it plugs in.
The result? You have a good looking USB port that looks like it actually belongs on the iMac base and is always available should you need to plug something in - without reaching around to the back of the iMac.
It's possible to plug a pair of iMacompanions into the ports on the back of the iMac and to place them side by side on the base. The little device comes with a good sticky material on the bottom so that it stays in place on the base when you plug cables or flash drives into it. I had issues with the Jimi occasionally popping out of its USB port if I didn't hold that clip with my hand while plugging something into it. That doesn't seem to be a problem with iMacompanion.
Installing iMacompanion is simple enough - just peel off the paper backing on the adhesive pad, then stick the little extension onto the base of the iMac. I put it in the center for aesthetic purposes, but you could put it anywhere you desire as long as it's on the front edge of the base.
You'll need to tip your iMac to one side to run the flat cable under the base of the computer, but once you've done that you can get back to a normal posture for your iMac.
Unsurprisingly, the iMacompanion works just like any USB port. I find it to be extremely useful for using my iPhone 6 Plus with my iMac through the Duet Display app and TenOne Design Mountie, since I no longer have to fish around the back of the iMac to plug in a USB cable.
iMacompanion is a well-made and good-looking accessory for any iMac made since 2004. It adds a much-needed front USB port without detracting the overall design concept of the iMac. My only complaint? The price. $40 is a bit much for an accessory of this type, and I hope that Wiplabs can work on bringing the price down soon.
Unsolicited personal pitch
If you're a fan of crowd-funded projects like iMacompanion, join Backerjack's Ross Rubin and me for a half hour of talk each week about a handful of unique and sometimes useful campaigns on The Backerjack Podcast.