After a fortnight filled with influenza, sinus infection, and the smorgasbord of medications necessary to deal with each, Reviews Editor Dan Frakes finally crawled from bed and got down to cases (and bags).
Our Product Guide has been made richer by the addition of these items:
Techwiz Innovations offers the $99
MUSAK laptop bag and speaker system, a laptop shoulder bag with built-in speakers and an iPod compartment that lets you listen to your music on the go. Regrettably, it’s a fairly average bag that offers too little protection for the iPod and speakers that provide too much treble and too little bass. As Dan says, “Overall, the idea behind the MUZAK is interesting, but the product itself could use a bit more work.”
Between coughing fits, Dan was able to muster more enthusiasm for Speck Products’ $30
Protect & Connect, a silicone skin that provides a good amount of protection for your iPod shuffle that also includes four cap attachments—a keyring, lanyard, belt clip, and carabiner. $30 is a lot to spend on an accessory for a $100-$150 player. However, given that some vendors are charging $10-$20 for a single belt clip or carabiner attachment, the Speck package, with a case and four attachments, is a relatively good value.
Dan’s enthusiasm rose to even greater heights for Sumo’s $20
Stripe and Quilted cases. These are “sleeve” style cases—ones where you slip your full-sized iPod into a pocket that provides no access to the iPod’s front controls. The cases are constructed of tough ballistic nylon on the outside with a soft lining inside. They stretch to fit any standard iPod and offer protection from scratches and mild bumps while leaving the top edge of the iPod exposed so you can still use accessories, such as FM transmitters and remote control receivers, that connect to the remote/headphone jack. A metal belt clip adorns the back of each case. If you’re in the market for a sleeve, these are worth a long look.
Flap iPod cases also got a warm reception. Like Sumo’s Quilted and Stripe cases, the Flap cases offer protection from scratches and mild bumps. Unlike those cases, which leave the top of your iPod exposed, the appropriately-named Flap models protect even that part of your iPod with a fold-over flap—your iPod is completely enclosed.
Slappa, makers of stylish CD and DVD cases has entered the iPod market with its $35
ShockShell HardCase for iPod mini. Available in six different designs—Tribal, Gridz, Mod, Little Wing, Flutter, and Eden—this is one of the few cases for the iPod mini that provides near crush-proof protection while still providing access to the mini’s screen and controls. Dan found the “bubblegum” version of the Flutter pattern a little precious, but the variety of designs and colors offered by Slappa make it likely that you’ll find a case that will appeal to you.
Finally, our biggish review of the week was of Griffin’s $40
RocketFM USB FM transmitter. Akin to devices such as Griffin’s fabled iTrip FM transmitter for the iPod, the RocketFM attaches to your computer’s USB port and broadcasts its sound to a nearby FM radio on any station you choose. It’s a great looking device and easy to use, but we found it offered a touch less range than Engineered Audio’s like-priced