When Steve Jobs whipped the iPod shuffle from his back pocket at last January’s Macworld Expo, he mentioned that it could be tarted up with a series of Apple-made add-ons—the Sport Case, Dock, Battery Pack, Armband, and USB Power Adapter. Over the past couple of months, those devices have finally trickled into the distribution channel. Now that they’re ready for purchase, we’d like to give you our take on each one.
iPod shuffle Sport Case ( )
Reviews Editor, Dan Frakes, sums up the $29 Sports Case this way:
Although we wish it offered an option to swap the lanyard for a belt clip, Apple’s Sport Case is an attractive “active” case that protects your iPod shuffle both from the elements and from the everyday risks of scratches, bumps, and drops. We expect similar products from other vendors in the future, but for right now the Sport Case is the only game in town, and it’s a good one.
I’ll add simply that you can have your Sport Case trimmed in any color you like—as long as that color is orange.
iPod shuffle Dock ( )
If you’ve purchased more than a couple of USB peripherals, at one time or another you’ve received an extra USB cable that bears a male connector on one end and a female connector on the other. Some hardware vendors toss these USB extender cables into the box if they suspect the supplied standard USB cable (one attached to a keyboard, for example) may not be long enough for your liking. If you’ve yet to find a use for one of these cables, you have one now: Save yourself $29 by using that cable rather than the iPod shuffle Dock.
To be fair, the iPod shuffle Dock has this going for it: It’s the same color as the shuffle, it has a nice non-skid surface on the bottom, and it does provide a tidy way to mount and show off your iPod. Other than that, however, it’s no different than the USB extender cable you’ve shoved into the bottom drawer of your desk.
If you’re determined to spend $29 on an iPod shuffle accessory, this one is a more practical purchase than the Dock. Featuring a lanyard looped through the base and shaped a bit like a throne, the External Battery pack houses two AAA batteries (two batteries are included in the box) and extends your shuffle’s playtime for up to 20 hours. Those batteries add some heft to the Pack, making it coupled with the shuffle less-than-ideal workout mates—bounce around too much while wearing the Pack around your neck and you’ll quickly grow tired of the thumping your chest takes.
iPod shuffle Armband ( )
To avoid that thumping, you might consider the $29 iPod shuffle Armband. Like the shuffle Dock, Battery Pack, lanyard, and cap attachments, the shuffle attaches to the Armband’s hard plastic cradle via the USB connector. The flexible Armband stretches slightly and fits arms from 7” to 14” in circumference (thus making it an inappropriate accessory for California’s governor unless he wears it around his wrist).
While the Armband is a useful accessory for active shuffle users, its cradle does partially block the Off/On/Shuffle switch.
iPod shuffle Armband, iPod USB Power Adapter
iPod USB Power Adapter ( )
Apple envisions that most shuffle owners will charge their diminutive music players by plugging them into a free powered USB port. For those who find this scheme inconvenient—they either have no free USB ports or their computers aren’t awake long enough to fully charge the shuffle—there’s Apple’s $29 USB Power Adapter. This adapter is exactly the same as the FireWire power adapter—save for the USB connector—that once graced the box of all iPods. Just jack the Power Adapter into a handy socket, plug the shuffle into the Adapter’s USB port, and wait while the shuffle charges.