You can spot portable music players practically anywhere these days, and they're plugged into ears of almost all ages. We use them to enjoy...

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You can spot portable music players practically anywhere these days, and they’re plugged into ears of almost all ages.

We use them to enjoy music while we wait, block out distractions at work, dictate notes, store files, and sometimes simply to tune out the world for a little peace and harmony.

Now that MP3 players are integrated into our lives, we’ve started accumulating accessories to make them more versatile. Today, we’ll cover a few examples of the gadgets we’re buying to embellish our music players. For more ideas, you can search the Internet with keywords such as MP3 player accessories.

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Transfer photos:
The Apple iPod photo Camera Connector ($29) enables you to transfer and store on an iPod photo all the images you take while on vacation or away from a computer.

Just take pictures until your camera’s memory card is full, then transfer those images to an iPod photo, erase the memory card and fill it up again with more pictures. The photos are stored safely on the iPod until you return to your computer and upload them for editing and more permanent storage.

The Camera Connector is about the size of a Fig Newton and uses a USB cable. When connected, go to the iPod’s screen menu, click on Photo, then Photo Import to begin the transfer process. After that, you can view the images on the iPod screen.

The Connector provides a convenient alternative to carrying multiple memory cards (or a laptop) for storing the pictures you take while you’re away. Just make sure the iPod and camera have enough battery power to complete the transfer before you begin.

The Camera Connector is designed to work with any iPod photo and supports cameras that use one of the three main transfer protocols: PTP (Picture Transfer Protocol), Mass Storage, and Canon Type 4. A list of supported cameras is posted at www.apple.com/ipod/compatibility/cameraconnector.html, but it reportedly doesn’t include all compatible cameras.

Listen without earphones:
The Nyko Speaker Dock ($90, available later this spring) looks a bit like a half grapefruit upside down with an MP3 player on top.

It’s simple to set up and operate with few adjustments the listener can make.

Simply plug the Speaker Dock into an outlet, add the player and turn it on. There’s a dial for controlling volume and a button to activate the sound-enhancement mode.

The player battery recharges while plugged in, so you can listen while the player’s on the Dock and then take a charged player with you when it’s time to go.

Sound quality from the two small speakers is reasonable, and definitely better than I expected. It’s a good choice for music lovers who want to listen while cooking dinner, visiting on the patio or curling up in bed.

The Sakar MP3 Sound Case ($30), unlike other speaker systems, is a hard-case carrier with shoulder (or belt) straps and a speaker on the front. Wear it and go anywhere while listening to music, without wearing earphones.

Here’s how it works. Unzip the carrying case, insert a 9-volt battery, plug the short cord that’s inside the case into the player, place the player in the pocket and turn it and the speaker on.

Select the music you want, adjust the volume, zip the case closed and off you go with the music playing.

Sound quality is decent for a single 2-inch speaker — slightly tinny, but good enough for casual listening while you’re out with friends.

Other alternatives include the Harmon Multimedia JBL On Stage and On Tour portable speaker systems, which were briefly described in an earlier column (Getting Started, April 23).

Extend the battery life:
The Nyko iBoost Battery Pack ($70, the iBoost mini Battery Pack for the iPod mini is $60, both available later this spring) is a snug wrap-around rechargeable battery pack that reportedly can add up to 10 hours of extra playback time.

The iBoost is very light and barely extends the dimensions of an iPod. You can charge it up by itself (or with an iPod attached) by plugging it into an outlet, computer or car charger.

Then you can listen to the iPod by itself until the battery runs low and then attach it to the iBoost, or listen with them connected and enjoy the battery life of both before the music stops. It works well and is an asset for iPod owners who worry about running out of power.

Headphones for kids:
KidzMouse Ears headphones ($20 to $25) are designed for small heads. Because most headsets are made for big-people’s noggins, parents may be glad to know there’s an alternative for kids.

The headsets come in two designs (firefly and bee) and two sizes. Sound quality is about the same as other inexpensive headsets that lack noise-reduction capability to block outside noise. However, using a headset that fits is certainly better for kids than having to hold a headset on with one hand while operating the device with the other.

Write Linda Knapp at lknapp@seattletimes.com; to read other Getting Started columns, go to: www.seattletimes.com/gettingstarted