At a Glance
USB-plug adapter for second-generation iPod shuffle.
One of the great features of Apple’s second-generation (2G) iPod shuffle is its tiny profile. Unfortunately, as we noted when reviewing Incipio’s IncipioBud, this smaller size also has its drawbacks. Whereas the original shuffle featured a standard USB plug, making it easy to connect your shuffle to any USB port for charging and syncing, such a plug wouldn’t fit on the newer, smaller version. Instead, the 2G shuffle features a unique, all-in-one headphone jack that — with the right plug — handles audio, power, and data. Included with the shuffle is a small docking cradle that connects to your computer’s USB port via a long cable. Although convenient for home use, this approach has a distinct disadvantage compared to the original iPod shuffle, as it means you can charge and sync your 2G iPod shuffle only when you’ve actually got the dock cradle with you; the original shuffle could be plugged directly into any USB port.
The IncipioBud addressed this issue via a tiny adapter with a USB plug on one end and a charge/sync plug — that fits into the 2G shuffle’s jack — on the other, essentially giving your shuffle a standard USB plug like the original shuffle.
RadTech has introduced the second such accessory with the company’s ProCable – 2nd Gen iPod shuffle Charge/Sync. Like the IncipioBud, the RadTech accessory provides a USB plug on one end and a charge/sync plug on the other. However, unlike the IncipioBud, the ProCable sticks a 5-inch cable in between. The result is a similarly useful accessory with the disadvantage of being a bit larger (though still quite small, to be fair) and the advantage of giving you a few inches of cable slack to keep your shuffle out of the way of other USB plugs and devices.
Once you connect your shuffle to your computer using the ProCable, it appears in iTunes just as if you’d used the shuffle’s own dock cradle — it will charge and sync with iTunes. (As with the IncipioBud, the speed of syncing is comparable to using the shuffle’s own cradle.)
The ProCable also makes the 2G shuffle compatible with USB chargers, such as Apple’s own USB Power Adapter. Unfortunately, like the IncipioBud, the ProCable doesn’t pass audio from the shuffle to the USB plug, so it doesn’t provide compatibility with USB-plug speakers and FM transmitters designed for the original shuffle.
RadTech’s ProCable is as easy to recommend as the IncipioBud: It’s small enough to always carry in your bag, and inexpensive enough that you can afford to keep one at home, as well. (Although also similar to the IncipioBud is the high single-unit shipping rate: $4.95 to ship one, but only $8.25 to ship 10. You should place an order with some friends). Apple should include an accessory like this with every 2G shuffle. –Dan Frakes