Review: iPDA Remote Control for iPod nano
Pros: A simple white plastic remote control for the iPod nano, adding 20” of additional cable distance from earbuds to the nano, and permitting track and volume control, plus play/pause access, from a distance. Includes integrated spring-loaded shirt clip. Price is highly variable depending on where you shop, and for under $5, it may seem like an extraordinarily good deal.
Cons: Awkward use of both Dock Connector and headphone plugs precludes remote from being used with any other iPod. Looks and feels inexpensive by comparison with Apple’s older iPod Remote, here like a modestly changed clone of Sony’s all-plastic PSP remote control. Only available in white.
Though Apple and major third-party developers typically release updated versions of most of the “standard” accessories we’ve come to associate with the iPod, occasionally something slips through the cracks. With the release of the iPod nano and fifth-generation iPod, that something is a “wired remote control,” like the official iPod Remote that Apple used to bundle with iPods, then later sold in a $39 set with spare iPod earbuds. Now Chinese company iPDA has released its Remote Control for iPod nano ($18 and under), a white glossy remote that looks and feels less expensive than the iPod Remote. In fact, it more or less duplicates the look of the wired remote control Sony released for its handheld PlayStation Portable, instead including cables that connect only to the nano.
iPDA’s Remote hacks its way around an iPod electronics challenge: rather than finding a way to pull volume-adjustable iPod audio from the nano’s Dock Connector port, the company uses two connectors - one for the Dock Connector, one for the headphone port. Both connectors must be plugged into the nano’s bottom if you want to hear your audio and control the nano at the same time. Pull the headphone plug out and the audio disappears; pull the Dock Connector cable out and you can’t control the iPod. This two-piece solution, with a very short headphone cable, precludes the Remote from working with fifth-generation iPods or their non-nano predecessors; the headphone cable won’t reach to any of their headphone ports. (Longer-cabled versions for other iPods are available, but look laughably bad.)
But for the nano - especially the white one - the remote looks fine and works as advertised. In its center is a play/pause button, with volume up and down above and below it, and track backward and forward buttons to its left and right. A hold switch is on its right side, and a spring loaded shirt clip on its back. You plug your headphones into its top port, and the cable from its bottom adds 20 inches of additional length to your earphones - easily enough to fit the nano in your pocket and still comfortably wear most buds. We had no problem using it, and our audio sounded perfectly fine through the pass-through audio port.
While iPDA’s solution is not as efficiently designed or as universal as we’d hope, it can be had cheap - depending on where you shop. Online retailer axShop sells it for a mere $3.25 plus $3.25 shipping to the USA; we ordered it from here, and though the delivery wasn’t fast, the price was right. But you’re more likely to find it for $18: Hong Kong retailer Brando and several other companies sell it for that price plus shipping. If you can find it for axShop’s price, as we did, bump it up to a recommendable flat B - an alternative you can use until something better comes along. Otherwise, you may want to wait for a more widely compatible and better-looking option. Perhaps someone will even make a remote in both white and black colors.