Company: Taylor Technologies (Korea)
Price: Approx. $40
Compatible: iPod nano (aluminum)
Taylor Technologies iPlus+ USB Cable Integrated Lanyard Headphones
Pros: A visually neutral combination of earphones, lanyard necklace, and USB sync/charge cable for your second-generation iPod nano. Components are intelligently integrated into a single accessory that can lets you hear, wear, and recharge your nano anywhere, using a unique half-height USB connector rather than bulking you up with a bigger cable.
Cons: Sound quality is a bit off Apple’s prior iPod earphone standard, and a generation behind its current nano pack-ins in both sound and comfort.
One of iLounge’s goals in reviewing products is to occasionally spotlight smart new ideas that haven’t yet become mainstream. With iPlus+ (approx. $40), Seoul, Korea-based Taylor Technologies has introduced into Japan and Korea an innovative new accessory that blends two concepts into something more useful: it builds on Apple’s iPod nano Lanyard Headphones (iLounge rating: B-) by hiding an iPod nano-to-USB cable inside. Consequently, with a single accessory, you can wear, hear, and sync a second-generation nano no matter where you are, a boon for those people who enjoy keeping their nanos around their necks.
The trick here was to find a way to hide a USB cable inside something the thickness of an iPod nano—a seemingly impossible feat with a standard USB plug. So Taylor has used a half-height USB connector that’s capable of slipping inside of the lanyard’s iPod Dock Connector and headphone port base. A spring mechanism keeps the connector stowed safely inside, while the lanyard cable unravels to a length only a couple of inches shorter than one of Apple’s iPod pack-ins.
We had no problem connecting the iPlus connector to our computers, charging or synchronizing the attached nano, or disconnecting the plug and transforming it quickly back into a necklace. Taylor has also included simple, functional ways to adjust necklace length and earphone cord dangle, which don’t look or feel goofy in any way. Put simply, this is a smart concept, and it works just as expected.
There is a small, somewhat predictable wrinkle. Like so many others out there, Taylor’s earbuds look a lot like Apple’s classic iPod earphones - and the ones on first-generation iPod nano Lanyard Headphones - and include white foam covers to soften their impact on your ears. But their sound quality is a little off Apple’s old mark, missing some of the richness of the prior earphones, which weren’t exactly known for their warmth or bass. You’ll also have to turn the nano’s volume up to get output comparable to Apple’s earbuds.
It goes without saying that you’ll do a bit better on sound, and in our view ear comfort, by instead spending the same dollars on the new and improved earbud designs found in Apple’s official Lanyard Headphones offering. We find it interesting that earphone accessory makers continue to struggle to match or exceed the quality of even discontinued Apple earbuds, though Taylor’s close enough to the mark that most users won’t mind.
Our flat B rating of Taylor Technologies’ iPlus+—a notch higher than Apple’s Lanyard Headphones—is in recognition of the added value and innovation Taylor’s brought to the table with this product. Though lanyard headphones aren’t a new concept, the simplicity of the USB cable’s integration here is impressive, especially as it’s achieved for the same price we found objectionable for a simple earphone necklace. Ideally, we wouldn’t have to compromise at all on sound quality or ear comfort, factors that could have pushed iPlus into A-rating territory, but as-is, this is a handy, cleanly designed accessory that will appeal to those who enjoy wearing their nanos.