The iPod is not only the best-looking and best-selling music player to date but also a springboard from which dozens of accessories have launched and soared. These products turn your iPod from a mere digital music player into multi-functional tool--that happens to play episodes of Family Guy. Some attachments are so useful that it makes you wonder why Apple didn’t think of it first. In fact, some of these accessories can become so integral to your iPod that it can feel naked without them.
Perfect for camping, hotel rooms, or anywhere you need a tiny speaker. We’ve seen hundreds of iPod cases, scores of speakers, and even a few novelty products like bags and coolers that pack built-in speakers with iPod connections. But the iMainGo 2 combination case and speaker is one of the most useful and decent-sounding products we’ve tested—especially for its $40 price.
It looks great, but the Tango X2’s sound won’t make you feel like dancing. At first blush, the Tango X2 iPod speaker dock gets plenty of points for design. The smooth, black box takes the space of a couple of encyclopedias, and its elegant silver trim works dressed up for a dining room or down for a bedroom. But the Tango X2 has two left feet where it really counts, blasting out shrill, distorted sound.
This is one bug that won’t spoil your picnic. Standing out is important in the crowded iPod-speaker market, and Vestalife manages to do that with its first entry into the field, the Ladybug. At first glance, you might not even think it’s a sound system at all. It just looks like a 5.4-by-5.6-inch ball that resembles an overgrown ladybug with closed wings. When you open it up, the speakers fan out, exposing the docking area, and the device looks ready to fly off your shelf. Parents will appreciate the unique rubberized coat of paint that gives the sub-2-pound speaker an original feel and makes it simple for kids to grip without dropping.
So close to being great. In the last few years, the center console of a vehicle has become command central for climate control, navigation, and enormous stock stereos. The amalgamation of these items is great until you try to add an iPod or hands-free Bluetooth system to the mix, or you want to upgrade the audio system. The Alpine eX-10 iPod integration and Bluetooth hands-free calling system hopes to alleviate your lack-of-an-iPod-kit-in-your-new-car blues. The eX-10’s LCD allows drivers to navigate their iPods and Bluetooth-equipped mobile phones. Users have the option of using an FM transmitter or auxiliary minijack audio output to bring the tunes to their stereo system. The FM transmitter pushed a better-than-normal audio signal to the stereo. But if it can be utilized, the auxiliary output is the way to go for cleaner sound, without the issues inherent in FM transmitters.
At just under 4 inches on all sides, the iCube fits nearly anywhere—as long as there’s AC power nearby. Boynq offers the iCube II (and another iPod speaker, the Sabre) in both black-and-chrome “Pour Homme” and lavender-and-white “Pour Femme” versions. While “Pour Femme” is one glitter unicorn sticker away from being “Pour 9-Year-Old Girl,” the black-and-chrome version is attractive enough for a desktop, bedroom, or kitchen.
Treating your ears to good vibrations. We like V-Moda’s Vibe earphones (4 out of 5 stars), with their rich midtone reproduction, crisp high-range sounds, and punchy bass. Fortunately, V-Moda didn’t mess with a good thing when it released the Vibe Duo, a headphone/headset for the iPhone. The Vide Duo takes V-Moda’s Vibe earphones, attaches a mic to them, and uses an iPhone-friendly connector.
Remember to put your iPhone in Airplane Mode when using it with an iPod speaker like the Amplifi. It’s getting harder and harder to find a simple iPod speaker: one that doesn’t have a clock, a radio receiver, a CD player, or a space-age design. But we found one in the Amplifi, and for $150, we like what it has to offer: great sound for your iPod tunes, and not much else.
You paid a whole lotta money for your iPhone, so why not invest $25 to $35 in a solid protective case for it? We’ve rounded up some of the first iPhone cases to hit the market. The type of case you want will depend on how much you’re willing to fiddle with it. For example, holsters such as the Elan Holster, Slim-Fit Case, and the HipCase won’t let you use the iPhone while it’s encased, but they do offer a means of protection. More iPhone cases are being released as you read this, so you can bet we’ll be taking a look at those too.