capsule review

Kensington Accessory Adapter for iPod shuffle

At a Glance
  • Kensington Accessory Adapter for iPod shuffle

    Macworld Rating

    Allows use of dock-connector accessories with iPod shuffle.

One of the drawbacks of the unique design of the iPod shuffle is that many "iPod" accessories don't work with the shuffle; its lack of a dock connector port means that it works only with accessories that include a shuffle-specific USB port or a generic audio-input jack. (There's also the fact that accessories made for the shuffle tend to be -- thanks to the shuffle's own position as the "budget" iPod -- of lesser quality compared to similar products made for its bigger siblings.)

In this context, Kensington's Accessory Adapter for iPod shuffle -- which lets you use many dock-connector iPod accessories with an iPod shuffle -- is a long time coming. This simple adapter features a dock connector port on one end and a USB port on the other; you simply plug your iPod shuffle into the USB port and then plug the dock-connector end into your favorite dock-connector (cable or cradle) accessory.

In my testing, the Accessory Adapter worked great for connecting an iPod shuffle to power accessories and iPod speaker systems; the only caveat for the latter being that, unlike dockable iPods, the shuffle doesn't provide a true line-level audio output, so you'll need to manually adjust the shuffle's own volume to ensure proper levels during playback.

On the other hand, the iPod shuffle's USB connector has two other limitations that affect the Kensington Adapter's compatibility with other types of accessories. The first is that accessories that can be used to control a dockable iPod -- for example, remote controls or speaker systems that include the ability to remotely control playback -- can't control an iPod shuffle. The second is that, since the iPod shuffle's USB connector doesn't provide power to accessories, add-ons that require power from the dock connector on a full-size iPods -- such as some FM transmitters, voice recorders, and the like -- don't work with the shuffle. Finally, the adapter doesn't allow you to sync an iPod shuffle with your computer; to do that, you'll need to connect the shuffle directly to a USB port.

In other words, this isn't the sort of accessory you should get just so that you can go out and buy higher-quality "standard" iPod accessories for use with your iPod shuffle; however, if you already own both a shuffle and a dockable iPod, the Accessory Adapter will let you use many of your standard iPod accessories -- especially speakers, power adapters, and add-on batteries, but also self-powered accessories such as Kensington's own Digital FM Transmitter/Auto Charger for iPod -- with the shuffle. That alone makes the Adapter worth its paltry $20 price tag in my book.--Dan Frakes

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At a Glance
  • Macworld Rating

    Allows use of dock-connector accessories with iPod shuffle.

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