(The following review, covering TuneBuckle’s TuneBuckle Original and BeatBuckle’s iPod Nano BeatBuckle, is an excerpt from a Playlist article on iPod apparel; you can read the full article at the link below.)
We’ve recently seen two examples of “iPod apparel” we never would have come up with on our own: iPod nano belt buckles. No, you didn’t misread; at least two companies now make belt buckles (or entire belts) that hold your iPod nano. The first such product is TuneBuckle’s $60 TuneBuckle Original. Actually a belt and buckle, available in five sizes, the TuneBuckle Original features a machine-milled aluminum-alloy belt buckle with a chrome finish. Your iPod nano slides into the buckle from the back — once buckled, it won’t fall out — and the buckle’s open face leaves your nano’s entire face (screen and Click Wheel) accessible; an opening on the side of the buckle lets you connect your headphones. (You need to remove your nano from the TuneBuckle to access the iPod’s dock-connector port.) The TuneBuckle Original’s 1.5-inch-wide belt is available in black or white leather with red stitching.
If you’re the type who thinks an iPod belt buckle is a cool gadget — and that’s a key “if” here — the TuneBuckle Original is an impressive product. It’s well-made and looks very nice. (Although I didn’t like the red stitching on the belt itself; I would have preferred same-color stitching — black-on-black or white-on-white — or something a bit more subtle, such as gray. That said, the belt itself is removable; you can use the TuneBuckle with any removable-buckle belt.) The biggest caveat is that since the Original leaves your nano’s screen and Click Wheel accessible, it offers no protection against bumps and scratches — a significant risk for some people, such as those who spend their days near counters, tables, and tools or in environments (public transportation anyone?) where they’re likely to be bumping into other people and their bags. If this is a concern, TuneBuckle offers two other models: the Full Moon, which leaves only the Click Wheel exposed, and the Full Metal Jacket, which completely encloses your nano.
The other nano belt buckle we’ve tested is BeatBuckle’s $30 iPod Nano BeatBuckle. Unlike the TuneBuckle, the BeatBuckle is made of clear plastic (the company describes it as “nearly indestructible”) and covers most of the face of your nano; only the Click Wheel is exposed. In addition — and this partially explains the BeatBuckle’s significantly lower price — the BeatBuckle doesn’t include a belt; a metal buckle assembly on the back connects to any removable-buckle belt. (If you want a belt, BeatBuckle will include a black leather version for an additional $10.) The front of the BeatBuckle swings open to allow you to insert your iPod; you then close the cover and slide dual “locks” to secure the case. Your nano’s dock-connector port is accessible without having to remove your iPod from the BeatBuckle. (A version is also available for the iPod [with video].)
The BeatBuckle is made well and is much more protective overall than the TuneBuckle. However, I personally find its clear-plastic design to be less attractive than the chrome-plated TuneBuckle, and I didn’t like the looseness of the BeatBuckle’s belt ring.
It’s worth noting that neither of these products, the TuneBuckle or the BeatBuckle, provide access to your nano’s hold switch; to access it, you need to completely remove your nano from the buckle. And of course, whichever belt buckle you choose — except for TuneBuckle’s Full Metal Jacket — you should also consider the risk of “showing off” your iPod in public.–Dan Frakes