I’m waiting to catch cats.
Yep, thanks to a single (and now regretted) act of kindness, my yard is choked with feral cats. And while I appreciate the efforts they’ve made to control the local gopher population, it’s time to rein in this ballooning feline welfare system.
And so I wait in the hope that at least one of the critters has forgotten the fate of its inbred relations and ventures into the tuna-baited trap that will become its temporary home on the way to the spay and neuter clinic.
While I wait I ponder the trip to the clinic. And when I ponder trips I naturally turn to the cardboard box of iPod gear that sits next to my desk. As you might imagine, I have a lot of iPod accessories and lately it’s become increasingly difficult to sort out exactly which ones should take the next trip with me. With that in mind, I’ve determined to compile a list of items that no iPod traveler should be without.
A carry all
I would no more attempt to carry all my iPod gear loose than would I try to stuff a feral cat in my pocket. We’ve gone beyond the days when a simple case that holds an iPod and earbuds will do. If you travel with half the gear I’m going to recommend, you need something to put it in.
When I’m traveling light-ish (meaning I’m not lugging multiple iPods with all their accompanying accessories), I’m keen on Waterfield Designs’ $35
iPod Gear Pouch
(or, if I’m carrying my mini, the $29
Mini iPod Gear Pouch
). These bags are the size of clutch purses and hold the essentials—iPod, earbuds, cables, and power adapter, with a little room left over for a small FM transmitter, voice recorder adapter, or auto power supply.
If I need to carry more stuff, I drag along a larger bag. Playlist’s Reviews Editor, Dan Frakes, is keen on STM’s
courier bag as it’s big enough for all his gear but not so big as to be unwieldy. For something a little smaller and less expensive, I like Timbuk2’s $50
Digital DJ Hip Pack.
Cables and adapters
Because I’m never quite sure what sort of port I’ll be connecting my iPod to I like to have a highly adaptable iPod power/data cable. For me that’s Apple’s $25
iPod USB cable + FireWire Cable 2.0 Cable. This Y cable bears a dock connector plug on one end and splits out to USB and FireWire connectors.
For added adaptability I also carry SendStation’s
PocketDock. As our review tells you, there are four varieties of PocketDock, ranging from a $19 adapter that includes a dock connector on one side and a standard FireWire port on the other to the $30 PocketDocks that offer that same dock connector and either a USB or FireWire port along with a line-level audio minijack output.
For the car
If my car was plumbed for a direct connection to my iPod, I’d use that as it’s the solution for getting the best sound from an auto-bound iPod. Instead, I carry a cassette adapter—specifically, Coby’s $9
CA-747. It’s not fancy, but it does the job.
I also carry an FM transmitter when I travel because cassette decks have gone the way of the dodo in rental cars. If I have the room to carry one, I’ll bring along Sonnet Tech’s $100
PodFreq. Yes, it’s bulky, but it puts out a signal strong enough to compete with local FM stations. If I need to travel lighter, it’s XtremeMac’s $40
AirPlay FM Transmitter. It’s small, puts out a decent signal, and is easy to tune to FM stations.
For charging older iPods in the car I use the first auto power adapter that I can pull out of the box. There are countless numbers of these things made by several companies. For newer iPods I use Griffin Technology’s $25
PowerJolt. Unlike auto chargers of the past, the PowerJolt includes a USB connector on the charging unit rather than a FireWire connector, thus allowing you to power up any iPod that can be charged over USB—mini, shuffle, 4G, photo, and color iPods. Better yet, Griffin includes its own Dock Connector to USB Cable in the box so you needn’t truck Apple’s iPod cable with you—leave the Griffin cable in the car with the charger and keep the Apple cable at home.
I abandoned Apple’s earbuds ages ago. For road work I carry a couple of pairs of ear canal headphones. One pair is Etymotic’s $330
headphones. They’re comfortable and sound great. The other is Future Sonics’ $99
Ears. The Future Sonics ‘phones are anything but attractive, but they sound great for the price.
Finally, my bag isn’t fully packed without Griffin Technology’s $40
iTalk iPod Voice Recorder
and Apple’s $29
iPod Camera Connector. I use the iTalk for event interviews and the camera connector to offload images from my digital camera to my iPod.
Back to cats
Peering out the window I realize that the cats have outsmarted me again—the sign outside The Cat-stration Inn continues to blink
. Ah well, despite protests from Project Purr it’s time to pack the iPod for a trip down to Tranquilizer Guns R Us. May your travels be less flea-ridden.