Review: Apple iPod nano Lanyard Headphones
Pros: A simple combination of standard Apple iPod earbuds with a white fabric lanyard necklace and a chrome attachment for the iPod nano. Easy to adjust, minimalist design will likely match all users’ fashion needs.
Cons: Surprisingly high price, even by Apple and standard iPod accessory standards. Nothing special about either the earphones or the lanyard.
Just when we think we’ve gotten used to paying a bit extra for iPod add-ons, our readers chime in to snap us back to reality. “I went into an Apple Store and saw the iPod nano Lanyard Headphones,” a nano owner contacted us to mention, “and since I wanted them, I was prepared, grudgingly, to pay what I thought was the $29 asking price. But then I picked up the box and saw that they were $39. I put down the box and walked away. That’s outrageous.”
That pretty much sums up our feelings about Apple’s Lanyard Headphones ($39.00), which can be fairly - not sparingly - described as a white adjustable rope with two standard iPod earbuds and a chrome iPod nano holder attached. Even if you like how they look - which we did - you may well be surprised enough by the price to walk away, and by iPod standards, that’s saying something.
To Apple’s credit, the rope, earbuds, and holder are exactly what people would have expected from the company, and that’s generally a good thing. Other companies have released lanyard headphones for earlier iPods, and they’ve each looked comparatively over-aggressive in design, in one instance attaching a thick neckband and plastic retractable earbud boxes to clones of Apple’s earbuds (Mophie Song Sling, iLounge rating: B-), another connecting the whole necklace to gawdy, cheap leather cases (Pacific Rim Marketing iDiddy, iLounge rating: C). We weren’t incredibly fond of these designs, but Mophie’s was the better of the two.
Apple’s minimalistic approach is visually superior. You get real iPod earbuds, two sets of black foam covers, a nice polished chrome part that attaches to the nano, and an easy to adjust, visually inoffensive white necklace. The chrome attachment holds the nano firmly, using its headphone port and completely covering its Dock Connector port. Once connected, the Lanyard Headphones form a small white loop around your neck, with earbuds dangling down or going relatively unobtrusively in your ears. It’s a design that will look good with any nano, and most likely, on you, too. We’d actually wear it outside of our testing, which is more than we could say for the earlier headphone lanyards we’ve seen, and clear evidence that Apple’s designers did much better on this one than we could have expected.
The earbuds are also fine from an audio standpoint. We used a headphone splitter to compare them directly against the ones that come with every iPod nano, and discerned no differences - for better and for worse. You can do a lot better in comfort and isolation with Sony’s MDR-EX81s (iLounge rating: A), which sell at Amazon these days for less.
Our real problem is just price. Like you, we actually buy the Apple products we cover, and we try to ask ourselves the same question you would whenever we reach the cash register - is this worth the price? In our opinion, the answer is no. Headphones come with every iPod. Lanyards come with every iPod shuffle. This combination of these two commodity items doesn’t merit a premium price. If Apple had included a hard case, like the outstanding iPod shuffle Sport Case (iLounge rating: A), Lanyard Headphones would have nearly been a gimme at $39. But for just a rope and stock earbuds, the value’s just not there.
Especially given that Apple hasn’t made it easy to actually find the Lanyard Headphones in either its retail or online stores, our advice would be to wait for the inevitable third-party alternative to appear with better features and/or pricing. (A lanyard with a pass-through headphone port woutd be fine by us.) But if you can’t wait, are willing to cough up the steep price for a nano necklace, and aren’t looking for better headphones than what came with the nano, you won’t be dissatisfied.
If you’re a nano owner, we’d like to hear your comments on this review. Do you agree? Disagree? Are you willing to pay the price for this design? We’re looking forward to reading your thoughts.