I don’t know about you, but I hate the hard flat-faced earbuds that come with today’s iPods and most other MP3 players. Not only don’t they stay in my ears, but they hurt!!
I just found an great solution. Someone at a company called Burton Technologies came up with the brilliant idea of creating a soft in-ear
flexible overlay for the hard ear buds. They are called Acoustibuds. You simply pull them on over the hard earbud. They are flexible and can be angled so they can be adjusted to fit the shape of your ear canal.
It took me about two minutes to angle them properly for my ear and I immediately found them to be comfortable and to have a very secure fit. In fact, I even wore them while I worked up a good sweat on a treadmill and they still stayed in place.
I was also amazed by the fact that the music sounded better, although after I thought about it, that might have been expected. Since the Acoustibuds fit better in the ear, the sound obviously goes into the ear better. Also, they block out outside sounds better.
These would be perfect with the iPod Shuffle since you must use the hard Apple earbuds with the Shuffle. I also found that I can use them with my Jawbone and other Bluetooth headphones.
For $19.99 you get two different sizes in the box. One fit my ears, the other fit my husband’s, so they were perfect for us.
At last, a simple idea that works!
It’s not a gimmick — the new iPod shuffle will actually talk to you. It will announce the name of the song and the artist, but even more importantly, it will announce and let you choose playlists. This is a wonderful feature for this least expensive iPod. Because the shuffles don’t have a screen, up until now, all you could do is “shuffle” your music. That is, have the music tracks played in random order.
However, this new shuffle lets you choose to play a playlist. That means you can put together lists of certain types of music in iTunes and choose which list you will play on your shuffle. You can make a collection of music for exercise, for walking, for relaxing, or for just about anything you choose. This makes the shuffle ultimately more usable.
I took an in-depth look at the shuffle. My full review with photos is posted on Hardware Secrets. For those of you who may not want to do all that reading, I’ll give you a quick summary here.
The new talking shuffle is very, very small. No bigger than a pair of nail nippers, a Bic lighter, or a AAA battery. It’s great for those who don’t want a lot of bulk, but may be problematic for those who lose small items easily.
For such a small device, the sound quality is amazing as is the 4GB storage size. The biggest drawback is that because the controls are on the cable of the ear buds, you must use the hard round Apple ear buds that come with the shuffle. Many of us find these very uncomfortable.
The retail price of the shuffle is $79. The capacity, the sound, and the ability to choose the music you play make it worthwhile. If you want an inexpensive digital music player, and you don’t mind the ear buds, this may be the one for you!
FM transmitters that let you play the audio from your digital music player in the car are nothing new. I have been using one for years. You hook your music player to the transmitter and plug it into the cigarette lighter in your car. (You younger folks may call call the cigarette lighter, the 12 volt accessory outlet.) Then you tune the transmitter and the car radio to the same frequency and voila! You hear the digital music through your car speakers.
Up until now, you the FM transmitters were device specific. So you had to use one made for an iPod with an iPod, or made for a Sansa with a Sansa. If you and your husband had different players, you needed two different transmitters. If you decided to move from an iPod to a Zune, you had to purchase a new transmitter.
This new device by Griffin, has made everything much easier. It is called the iTrip Universal because you can use it with just about any MP3, CD, or cassette player. This magic is made possible because instead of using the proprietary charging port on the device, the iTrip hooks up to the headphone jack. On most devices the headphone jack is a standard 1/8″ , so the iTrip can be used with many different audio devices.
I use both an iPod and a Zune. When I travel i usually listed to the podcasts on my iPod, but occasionally I like to listen to the music on my Zune. So this little device is a godsend for me…. allowing me to use the same FM transmitter for both devices.
This little iTrip device also has what they call SmartScan. You simply press a button and the iTrip will find an open FM frequency to use. Then you tune your car radio to that frequency to hear the audio from you handheld music device. It works like a charm. I used it recently on a 12 hour car trip. When I lost one frequency, I simply pressed the SmartScan button and then set the car radio to the frequency that it found and displayed on the screen. i was able to do this while driving without much distraction at all.
The iTrip has one other nice feature. There is a built-in USB port that you can use to charge your device while it is attached to the iTrip. Again, this worked seamlessly with both my devices. The only drawback is that you have two wires running between the car outlet and the device…one for the iTrip and the other, the charging cable that came with your device. This looks a little messy, but it allowed me to play my music and podcasts for the entire trip.
One of the best things about this iTrip is that if you or someone in your family gets a different type of MP3 player in the future, it will most probably still work with your iTrip. At $49.99, it is competatively prices, and more useful than most transmitters of this type.
Although the iPod is the most popular portable digital music player, there are cheaper alternatives that also give you added features. The Sansa Fuze is one such player. In size, it is similar to the iPod nano.
The Fuze, however, does a few things that the iPod cannot do. It has a great FM radio, a voice recorder, and excellent battery life. The Fuze also supports a wider range of music formats than any other player I’ve looked at. You can increase your storage with a MicroSD card and the music on the card is fully integrated with the music on the player.
I got to review the cool-looking red one! Check out my full review at Hardware Secrets.
My search for a case for the iPhone has produced a lot of great contestants so I won’t yet declare this one the winner, but it is, without a doubt one of the best. If you follow my posts you will know that I ordered a Treadz case for my iPhone from a company named iFrogz.
I didn’t like it so I returned it. The iFrogz company was amazingly gracious about the return. I chose to exchange the Treadz case for the iFrogz iPhone 3G Luxe case which was suggested by their representative during a telephone call. “Everyone here has their iPhones in the Luxe case”, she said. “I’m sure that you will love it!”
The Luxe case arrived quickly and the rep was right. I love it. The Luxe is a hard shell plastic case. It comes in two parts that slide together to encompase the iPhone in an atractive arching design. One part of the case is a bright color. The other is black. The colors include royal blue, ruby red, medium magenta, orange, silver, and the lime green that I choose. Actually, the color is a bit more muted than it shows here. The neat thing is that the case has a metallic facade that has a velvety soft touch. I don’t know how they did it, but the finish is really great. So it is aptly named “Luxe”.
The case comes with a screen protector to prevent scratches. You simply peel it off the paper and apply it to the face of the iPhone. My first try produced a few bubbles, but the second try produced good results.
It is difficult to give the iPhone an extremely protective case without interfering with the functionality of the full-face touch screen, but the Luxe does a good job. Everything is accessable and the case gives the iPhone a great feel. No more fear of it sliding out of your hand!