iPod Gear Guide

Cloth Cases

You know that you really should protect your iPod with a heavy-duty case. But if you want to live dangerously (and look cool doing it), check out foof’s foofpods. Like Apple’s iPod Socks, these cases offer little in the way of features and functionality, but they’re so fun (and funky) that they’re worth a look. Available in 16 patterns (from spotted fur to paisley to corduroy), foofpods are handmade fabric sleeves that offer a bit more padding and a sturdier build than iPod Socks. And the unique designs are sure to make you stand out from the crowd ($12).

Cases

Tucano Tuta
Italian bag maker Tucano brings European style to the iPod with a number of stylish and sporty cases. The Tuta models, for fourth-generation iPods, iPod photos, and the iPod mini, provide a custom-fit neoprene sleeve and a clear plastic screen protector (the Click Wheel remains exposed). The Muta models are also made of padded neoprene, but they enclose the entire front of the iPod in clear plastic, offering more protection than the Tutas while allowing you to see your iPod’s face. The Muta models come with a belt clip, and Tucano sells cases bundled with an armband, or with an armband, a waistband, and a storage pouch for earbuds. All Tucano cases are available in several colors and prints—in the United States, you can find them at Mac Zone, Tower Records, and many other locations ($20-$60).

Cloth Covers

iPod Socks
When Steve Jobs announced Apple’s iPod Socks, most of us thought he was joking. As it turns out, we should have known better. Sold in a pack of six—one each of green, purple, gray, blue, orange, and pink—the iPod Socks are just what they sound like: knit socks that stretch to fit any size iPod (excluding the iPod shuffle). They don’t do much other than protect your iPod from scratches, but that’s all some people want. Just be careful not to lose one in the dryer ($29 for pack of six).

Bluetooth Headphone System

naviPlay

Ten Technology’s naviPlay is a Bluetooth headphone system for the iPod. The naviPlay’s small transmitter fits any dockable iPod and sends your tunes to a lightweight receiver and remote control; plug your favorite headphones into the receiver, and you can roam as far as 30 feet—while your iPod stays put. (The naviPlay also works well with an iPod that’s buried deep in a backpack.) There’s also a version bundled with HP’s Bluetooth Stereo Headphones; it includes playback controls right on the headphones for a completely cord-free experience ($200; with HP headphones, $239).

Luggage

Boom Bags
In an interesting (and perhaps the only) convergence of luggage and audio, Boom Bags has introduced a new line of audio-equipped suitcases. The company has taken standard rolling carry-on bags and equipped them with stereo speakers, a subwoofer, and a 10-watt amplifier—the audio components fit in the space between the rails of the suitcase’s collapsible handle. Once you reach your destination, plug in your digital music player or computer, unzip the protective panel that hides the speaker controls, and crank up the volume. The Office on Wheels model includes a removable laptop shoulder bag, and the larger Rolling Suiter includes a removable trifold garment bag ($330 each).

Car Interface

Clarion VRX755VD
Following in the tracks of Alpine Electronics and its KCA-420i (see the review ), Clarion hits the road with its in-dash iPod package—the VRX755VD car-stereo head unit. The 212-watt player features a 7-inch pop-up LCD with touch-screen functionality. When it’s connected to an iPod, its screen provides an iPod-like interface that lets you browse artists, songs, and playlists. If you can swallow its high price, you’ll enjoy how easy it makes finding and playing your music ($1,600 plus $50 for cable).

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