They say a resourceful handyman (or woman) can do anything with a roll of duct tape. I'm discovering that the white, plastic belt clip that ships with the iPod mini is similarly impressive. Using this versatile accessory, I've been able to use my mini -- safely -- in ways not officially sanctioned by Apple.
Apple claims that the iPod mini -- which doesn't come with its own dock; it must be purchased separately -- isn't compatible with the dock for the "standard" iPod. Being the cheap guy I am, and considering that I already had a standard dock from an older iPod, I was determined to prove otherwise. After all, the dock connectors themselves are identical, right?
It turns out that only reason the mini "isn't compatible" with the standard dock is that the opening in the dock itself is too wide, so it doesn't provide the mini with the necessary support. You can get the mini to stand upright in the standard dock, but doing so isn't very stable and puts a lot of strain on the dock connector itself.
Well... it also turns out that by attaching the mini's belt clip upside-down -- positioned about a millimeter below the top of the mini -- the clip supports the mini nicely, allowing you to use the it with the standard iPod dock.
One of my favorite accessories for the standard iPod is Altec Lansing's inMotion portable speaker system. Although you can find better sounding speakers, you'll be hard pressed to do so in a system that's the size of a paperback book. Unfortunately, the inMotion system "does not support iPod mini," according to both Apple and Altec Lansing.
Nonsense, I say. The reason for this lack of official support is that, like the dock, the inMotion's dock connector opening is too wide. So you just need something to keep the mini upright and secure while sitting in the inMotion. Enter the belt clip. By placing it in just the right position -- right side up, this time -- the belt clip actually clips onto the inMotion body, keeping the mini both in the correct upright position and securely attached. Score another one for Mr. Belt Clip.
Finally, one of the great things about the mini is its small size. In fact, it's small enough that iPod case vendors are starting to sell "wearable" cases -- ones that let you connect a strap to the case and wear the iPod mini around your neck. But unless you want the added protection that such a case brings, you can get the same result for free by simply attaching a lanyard or other strap to the slot at the top of the belt clip itself. If you suffer from gadget vanity, this approach also has the advantage of showing your iPod mini in all its colorful (or silvery) glory, rather than being hidden inside a case. (Apple's website claims you can "clip" the mini to a lanyard, but I feel much safer connecting it securely via the slot.)
Have you found any unique ways to use your mini's belt clip -- other than as a belt clip?