Decades ago, the Sony Walkman defined a way to listen to music. In 2005, the torch has been passed to Apple's iPod. With millions sold and...
Decades ago, the Sony Walkman defined a way to listen to music. In 2005, the torch has been passed to Apple’s iPod.
With millions sold and new iPod flavors still to come, it was rather curious to hear Dell’s chief executive, Kevin Rollins, recently trash the white-and-chrome icon as a “fad.”
Obviously, he hasn’t seen one yet. For those who have, we suggest ways to add on pleasure:
Speakers: Sometimes you just want to share the music. Although there are “splitters” that allow an iPod to accommodate more than one pair of headphones, those who seek to combine their ‘pod with desk or tabletop speakers now have choices.
We like best the Bose SoundDock, which has the most liquid, detailed sound. The iPod sits in the center, flanked by speakers behind a glossy white grill. Setup is a no-brainer: Plug in the power cable, set the player on the dock and power it up. A wireless remote controls key functions.
Billed as an “ultra portable,” although it’s really not, the Altec Lansing in Motion iM3 ($179.95) will fold up easily for schlepping in a briefcase. (The $129 iM Mini, made exclusively for the iPod Mini, is substantially smaller.) There’s an AC adapter, or the iM3 can be powered by four AA batteries. A wireless remote is bundled as well, and it will control most functions of newer iPods.
Other speakers that like iPod are JBL OnStage ($199) and the Tivoli iPal ($129.95).
Cases: Snow white with nifty chrome, most iPods are destined to be showoffs, but they need protection.
Colorful and soft, the Iskin Evo2 ($29.95) for click-wheel iPods is a shade best described as “pink lemonade”` It’s made of 100 percent silicone and features an integrated cover for the docking port.
The Belkin Hard Case for the iPod mini ($29.95) is a form-fitting aluminum sheath with a soft Neoprene lining to avoid scratches. There are openings for the screen and control pad.
Power: While there’s no way (yet) for drivers to command their iPods by voice, Belkin and Griffin have arranged a nifty way to pump the music into the car stereo, sans wires.
The Belkin TuneCast II Mobile FM Transmitter ($39.95) plugs into the iPod headphone jack and sends tunes through any clear frequency on the car’s (or any) FM radio. It uses two AAA batteries and claims to play for 10 hours.
The Griffin I-Trip ($34.95) has one advantage: It receives its tiny amount of power from the iPod, needing no batteries.
Headphones: While the earbuds that come with iPods are cool and white and match the player, they don’t sound great. Music lovers needn’t spend $180 on a new pair, but should they so decide, the Shure EC3 Sound Isolation Earphones ($179) justify the splurge. Using high-energy micro-speakers, they’re detailed and clear across the entire frequency range, and the fit is so comfy that most ambient sound is eliminated.
Almost, but not quite, in the same league — but at a much lower price — are the Sony MDR-EX71 phones ($49.95). These produce tons of bass — sometimes at the expense of the middle and high frequencies. But they’ll spoil you.
‘Pods and ends: Light up your iPod with the Griffin iBeam. This $19.95 goodie is actually two beams: a decent flashlight that plugs into the headphone jack, and another plug-in that turns an iPod into a laser pointer. Sounds goofy, but iBeam is a pretty handy tool.
Hewlett-Packard’s “tattoos” ($15 per package) are removable stickers imprinted with funky designs.
Podcasting: Still in its infant stage, podcasts are compressed streams, usually MP3 files, downloaded to the digital audio player, usually from blogs.
Sites podcasting these homemade radio shows are emerging daily. Podcasting.net, for example, lists hundreds, broken down into topics ranging from sports to entertainment to politics. The podcasts are mostly free, but first-time users must download a software player like iPodder.
Linking to podcasts via www.podcast.net, we found some doozies: “Stories of Beb Dulabin” under poetry, for all you Beb Dulabin fans, and Digital Flotsam, described as a “well-tossed audio salad.”