The success of the iPod has created an entire industry: companies both large and small are producing an amazing array of add-ons for the portable music player. In fact, so many products have been released in the past few months that we can fill several pages with cool new iPod gear. So we asked Playlistmag.com’s reviews editor, Dan Frakes, to showcase the latest iPod accessories. Plus, we brought in Playlistmag.com’s editor in chief, Christopher Breen, for some tips on using the iPod shuffle and iTunes.
XtremeMac —one of the first companies to provide accessories for the iPod—has released another winner: the AirPlay, a tiny FM transmitter that plugs directly into the headphone and remote jacks of third- and fourth-generation iPods, the iPod mini, and iPod photos. The AirPlay lets you trans-mit your iPod’s music to any FM radio frequency, particularly useful for listening to music in your car. Like Griffin Technology’s comparable iTrip, the AirPlay runs off the iPod’s battery. But unlike the iTrip, the AirPlay lets you choose from FM broadcast frequencies—88.1 to 107.9—with up and down buttons and an illuminated LCD built into the device. It’s also the smallest FM transmitter I’ve seen ($40).
I’ve long been a fan of Shure’s in-ear headphones, which include the $99 E2c, the $179 E3c, and the $499 E5c. Until recently, the best value in the line has been the E3c—but the E4c could change that. Thanks to its high-definition drivers and Tuned-Port technology, the E4c provides better treble detail and bass than the E3c, and it does so with only one driver per ear (so it costs less than the two-driver E5c). Clad in white, gray, and brushed metal, with white cables, the E4c was designed with iPod users in mind ($299).
Like the rest of the popular inMotion family, Altec Lansing’s inMotion iM4 is a folding portable speaker system. The iM4 uses the same speaker drivers and has the same battery life and overall shape as the iM3, but its design doesn’t limit its use to dockable iPods—you can use the iM4 with any portable music player. Clad in dark gray and white, the iM4 features a foldout, nonskid base and can accommodate hard-drive-, flash-, and CD-based music players via a standard 1/8-inch mini-jack cable ($130).
Thanks to Better Energy Systems, your iPod will keep on trucking as long as the sun shines. The company’s Solio powers the iPod (and other electronic devices) with solar energy, and its foldout design turns its small size into a large reception area. You can either charge electronic devices directly—using available adapters for dockable iPods, PDAs, and mobile phones—or charge the Solio’s internal battery for later use. (In case you need a charge at midnight, the Solio also includes an AC wall adapter.) The Solio will charge your iPod’s battery at the same rate as Apple’s AC adapter, or provide as much as 9 hours of additional iPod battery life with its 1,600mAh rechargeable lithium-ion battery ($120).
Casauri’s new Citra Collection iPod cases come in a number of colors and designs—Balmy Orange, Sky Blue, Sun Stripes, and more—that match Casauri’s Citra Collection laptop cases and handbags. These cases have a clear, thin front that lets you see your iPod’s full face and use your iPod without removing it ($20).
If you’re a fan of the surround-sound button on your home stereo, Upbeat Audio’s Boostaroo Revolution may be for you. It turns traditional two-channel audio into three-channel surround sound, and it has enough power to drive two sets of headphones—including high-impedance models that don’t otherwise work with the iPod and other portable audio sources ($80).