Review: TuneBuckle The Original (Mod Silver) for iPod nano
Pros: A well-made chrome belt buckle that can hold your iPod nano at waist level, providing complete access to its headphone port, screen, and controls while protecting its Hold switch and Dock Connector port. Includes your choice of white or black leather belts, sold in sizes appropriate to most users.
Cons: Price tag is high, face protectiveness is low, and fashion elements - namely the chrome plating and red stitching of belts - will appeal more to some users than others.
Late last year, a new trend in accessories became apparent: numerous companies were working on clothes with iPod integration, essentially ways to wear and interact with your iPod rather than pocketing or otherwise hiding it away. Though we’re aware that this category is nichey by definition - some people will reject the idea of iPod clothes outright, while other people will like them, or only specific articles of clothing - our reviews are intended to spotlight and credit the better ideas we’ve seen in this emerging accessory category while it grows and evolves.
As one of the genre’s pioneers, Atlanta, Georgia-based Tunebuckle has produced three different belt buckles designed for use with the iPod nano, all of which work in one simple way. You pop the nano into the open back of the buckle, wrap the belt around your waist, and plug your headphones into the nano’s exposed headphone port. Each of the three buckles is made from chromed aluminum, and sold with either a black or white belt, both with subtle red stitching.
“The Original” version of TuneBuckle is the most open of the company’s three designs: it exposes virtually the entire front of your nano for easy access while you’re walking. Only enough is covered (5%) to keep the nano physically in place while mounted inside, so you have complete access to the nano’s screen and Click Wheel at all times. If you want more nano protection, TuneBuckle’s Full Moon (iLounge rating: C+) exposes only the Click Wheel, and Full Metal Jacket (not yet reviewed) covers its entire face.
There are really only a few things worth noting about The Original. Its “Mod Silver” chrome body is nice, and not easy to scratch, though it does show fingerprints quite easily. Its branding is simple - a TuneBuckle logo on the top and patent notice on the bottom - and not visible to most viewers. Enough space is provided around the nano’s headphone port that any pair of headphones can be attached, and both the nano’s Dock Connector and Hold switches are covered at all times while locked in. Despite the buckle’s open back and face, we’ve experienced no accidental nano pop-outs in our testing, and you can feel fairly confident that only a substantial knock on nano’s face (or intentional decision to remove it) will separate your iPod from the mount.
As a belt - 1.5” in width, and available in five sizes to fit various waistlines - it’s comfortable and easy to look at, and a single peg makes the belt very simple to adjust to your size. The leather looks and feels well made, and visually is essentially as neutral as the iPod that’s inside. With this particular TuneBuckle, you can place a sticker-covered nano inside if you’re looking to switch up the belt’s fashion, an option not available with the other TuneBuckles.
Are there ways The Original could be improved? Added protection for the iPod’s face without compromising the screen and Click Wheel access would be nice - at least for some people - and different types of metal options, particularly those without as much shine and fingerprint susceptibility, would make this appealing to more people. Additional belt colors, including those without red stitching, would also please potential users, and this version’s $60 price tag also strikes us as high given the level of protection it provides.
Having said all of that, you won’t have concerns about the quality of Classic’s materials once you get it, and as a first-of-kind product, The Original may be capable of commanding a slight design premium. Overall, it strikes us as a good and generally thoughtful balance of usability and functionality, and one we’d be willing to recommend to those who are looking for a nice way to wear their iPods.