Review: Bruddy ShuffleMate
Pros: An easy way to wear your iPod shuffle without a lanyard, manage your shuffle’s earbuds when in or out of use.
Cons: A bit pricey for a simple accessory, similarly a little inelegant by comparison with other clip options.
Strictly speaking, there’s nothing wrong with adding a bunch of features to a simple idea if there are people who might like some or all of the features. Somewhat similar to the BudFrog cord management device we reviewed some time ago, new iPod accessory maker Bruddy’s ShuffleMate ($16.95 each) is an ambitious iPod clip that includes “wire management” features and two different ways to wear your iPod.
ShuffleMate consists of one primary piece of clear plastic that wraps around your iPod shuffle like an “exoskeleton,” to use Bruddy’s term, gripping the shuffle with pressure and adding a series of plastic holes to its top, bottom, and sides. Four of the holes let you attach an included “Bulldog Clip” to turn ShuffleMate into the dangling equivalent of an ID badge, while four more let you wrap the shuffle’s packed-in earbuds around the accessory as a cord management device. The remaining cord goes around the shuffle’s body, and your earbuds dangle.
One of the key differences between BudFrog and ShuffleMate is literally polish. Bruddy has polished each of ShuffleMate’s edges enough to preclude them from scratching or puncturing anything it might touch. The other major difference is that its design doesn’t overreach to quite the same extent: there’s no promise to turn your earbuds into “mini speakers,’ and all ShuffleMate does is wrap your cords, hold your shuffle, and give you a couple of ways to attach the shuffle to your clothes - without adding much bulk to the iPod in the process.
The first of those ways is the aforementioned detachable “bulldog clip,” an inexpensive-looking metal and plastic piece you can attach or leave off at your will. It gives you the ability to mount the shuffle horizontally or vertically on your clothes as you prefer. There are also two small but sturdy clips on the rear, which attach easily to a belt or other article of clothing. These clips are a lot like the one in XtremeMac’s SuperClip, which is to say adequate and a bit better than they look in photos, mounting your iPod horizontally rather than vertically.
As with most of the clips we’ve seen, Bruddy’s design isn’t too protective, and shouldn’t be marketed as such. It only truly guards the iPod’s left and right sides, leaving most of its face, back, bottom and top exposed. Consequently, the power switch on the shuffle’s rear is entirely accessible, though the power indicator button is obscured by one of the belt clips, and you have full access to the iPod’s headphone port and controls when it’s inside. We had no problem plugging in oversized or regular headphones when we tested it.
Our only issues with ShuffleMate are small ones. Its grip on the iPod isn’t the tightest we’ve seen, so you shouldn’t hang it upside down - a hard direct tap on the shuffle and a few jostles could knock the shuffle out, but again, only when it’s upside down. And its general utility as a cord management system is a bit limited: thicker headphone cords than Apple’s (read: many) won’t fit in its grooves, and really, do you need cord management for the shuffle, anyway? If you’re eventually going to wrap the earbuds’ cord around the shuffle, why add a ShuffleMate to do it?
The answer to those questions is this: if you need a non-lanyard way to carry around your iPod shuffle, and you only use Apple’s packed-in buds, the ShuffleMate offers a good clip-and-cord system for the price. Compared with XtremeMac’s $14.95 SuperClip, it’s not as elegant and attractive, but it’s a better value, despite the fact that we wince at both of those prices. Small issues aside, it’s a good first offering from Bruddy, and recommended.