iPod Gear Guide
Power Support is one of Japan’s largest vendors of iPod accessories, but it has only recently begun selling its products in the United States. The iPod-accessory market is much the better for it—Power Support makes some very cool products. The Crystal Film is among the most protective iPod screen covers I’ve seen, and it doesn’t seem to be as susceptible to air bubbles as other screen protectors. And the 3D Wheel Film is a unique Click Wheel protector; it has a raised bubble that covers the center button (Crystal Film two-pack, $11; 3D Wheel Film two-pack, $12).
Like all cassette adapters, Griffin Technology’s SmartDeck lets you play your iPod through your car’s cassette deck. What makes the SmartDeck supercool is that it lets you use the cassette deck’s controls to operate your iPod. The SmartDeck actually plugs into the remote and headphone jacks on third-generation and later iPods; you can then use your car stereo’s controls to play, pause, and skip forward and back ($25).
Previously known for its gaming peripherals, Nyko has recently introduced an entire line of iPod accessories. Perhaps the coolest is the iTop Button Relocator, which does something that no one seems to have considered before. Plugging the iTop into the remote and headphone jacks of a third-generation or later iPod (excluding the iPod shuffle) gives you volume and track controls (as well as a headphone jack and a hold switch) along the top of the iPod, so you can control it when it’s in a case, a pocket, or a bag— without Apple’s messy corded remote ($30).
Griffin Technology’s AirClick remote-control systems include a simple five-button remote that provides play, pause, forward, back, and volume controls. The iPod and iPod mini versions include a receiver shaped much like the company’s iTrip FM transmitters; it lets you control your iPod’s playback—through your stereo or iPod speakers—from across the room. The computer version, the AirClickUSB, includes a USB transmitter that’s about the size of a flash drive and can control iTunes even when the app is in the background. Griffin also plans to offer a combined system that includes a remote along with one USB and one iPod receiver ($40; combined system, $50).
Like its popular Creature II, JBL’s Encounter 2.1 is a left, right, and subwoofer speaker system that has an unusual design and works with digital music players, CD players, and computers. But its two alien-looking 13-watt satellite speakers and 34-watt subwoofer are larger and more powerful ($200).
As its name implies, Standard Technical Merchandise’s iPod mini cocoon provides a semirigid envelope of protection around your iPod mini. (Fortunately, your iPod won’t metamorphose inside and then fly away when it emerges.) Like the standard iPod cocoon, the mini version is a hard, belt-clip-equipped case that holds an iPod mini and earbuds and has room left over for some cash and a driver’s license. The mini version also includes a silicone skin, with a lanyard, that’s nice enough to use alone. The mini cocoon is available in gray and lilac ($40).
Speck Products’ new ToughSkin protects your iPod from scratches—just like the company’s standard iPod skins. But the ToughSkin’s thicker skin and rubberized bumpers provide extra protection. The case also includes a clear plastic cover for the screen and the Click Wheel, and a detachable belt clip. The ToughSkin is available in blue, red, black, orange, and clear, and it works with all fourth-generation iPods and iPod photos, with the help of an included adjustable plastic spacer ($35).