capsule review

Malachi and Company SyncWear

At a Glance
  • Malachi and Company SyncWear

    Macworld Rating

Given the number of people who work out with their iPods, "iPod apparel" -- clothing with iPod pockets and/or headphone-cable management -- has become a growing market. One of my favorite such products was Malachi and Company's PodGear, but before I got a chance to formally review these clever workout shirts, the company redesigned them and changed the name to SyncWear. The good news is that the updated versions are as just good as the originals.

Available in four styles (black, navy blue, vlack with navy trim, and red), each SyncWear shirt is made of quick-dry, polyester microfiber with an athletic-fit design (read: wicking, slim-fitting and stretchy, with shorter-than-normal sleeves). As exercise clothing, the SyncWear t-shirts are comfortable and do indeed dry quickly; I used mine in a variety of activities, from working out at the gym to running to playing basketball and had no complaints about fit or feel. The "flat" inner stitching is a nice touch.

But what makes the SyncWear shirts unique are the features for music listeners. On the lower-right side of each shirt, just above the hip, is a dual-layer pocket. The outer pocket, approximately four inches wide and deep and secured using two Velcro pads, accommodates a small music player, such as an iPod nano or shuffle or a music-playing phone. (Although a larger iPod or player will fit in the pocket, the additional weight pulls the shirt uncomfortably to that side.) Two inner pockets, each half the width of the outer one and a bit shorter, can hold a gym-locker key or a similarly-sized object.

The shirt also keeps your headphone cable under control: you thread the cable through two fabric loops on the right side of the shirt, one halfway between the aforementioned pocket and the armpit area, and one near the shoulder. These loops effectively keep your headphone cable from dangling loosely and getting caught on arms or gym equipment. The only drawback is that if your headphone cable is long, you'll still have excess cable to manage, but as long as the cable is fairly thin -- as is the case with most headphones used for working out -- you can stuff the excess length in the iPod pocket. (One other thing to note: the top loop is placed differently on the men's and women's version of the shirt. On the former, it's on the front of the shoulder; on the latter, it's along the top edge of the shoulder. I -- and my female tester -- didn't find either position to be better or worse.)

I have only two minor complaints about the SyncWear shirts. The first is that the iPod pocket is a bit bigger than it needs to be. An iPod nano can slide around in the pocket, or can fall over so that it sits in the pocket horizontally. This doesn't affect usability, but I'd prefer a slightly narrower pocket that keeps a nano in place. The other issue is that -- as with all iPod-holding t-shirts -- when you're engaged in an activity where your body is bouncing around or moving up and down, such as running, having an iPod or other player in the SyncWear's pocket means the pocket area will bounce around a bit, as well; the heavier the player, the more bounce. I didn't find this to be bothersome, but some people might.

Overall, the SyncWear shirts are excellent workout gear for those with smaller iPods. Granted, you could put your iPod in the pocket of your shorts and then run your headphone cable under your shirt, but some people (myself included) don't like sweaty headphone cables or iPods that fall out of pockets while exercisng. Plus, these shirts are quality exercise shirts in the same price range as similar clothing from dedicated athletic brands. Outdoor runners may still prefer a wrist holder or to carry their player in their hands, but for visits to the gym, I like SyncWear.--Dan Frakes

At a Glance
  • Macworld Rating

    Workout/fitness t-shirt with iPod pocket and cable-management features.

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