Review: Mophie Song Sling Retractable Lanyard Headphones for iPod shuffle
Pros: Hybrid pendant holders/lanyards/earbuds for various iPod models with access to each iPod’s controls. Retractable earbuds and their clips work well. Good build quality and professional design.
Cons: While integrated, components aren’t superior replacements for Apple’s originals. Not especially protective of the iPod shuffle, look is a bit on the techno-geek side because its conspicuousness on your neck, a bit pricey.
Like Pacific Rim Marketing’s iDiddy (iLounge rating: C), Mophie’s Song Sling for iPod shuffle ($39.95) is marketed as an integrated iPod holder, lanyard and headphone solution for the iPod shuffle, replacing two of Apple’s packed-in components with a single accessory. With a more modern look and smarter components than iDiddy, Song Sling does more for the iPod shuffle visually than the more expensive Pacific Rim offering, but doesn’t protect the shuffle as well.
There are three main parts to iDiddy, none of which can be physically detached from the others. First is a rubber and plastic iPod shuffle holder that’s a slight evolution of Marware’s earlier Sport Grip (iLounge rating: B). Here, the shuffle is inserted headphone port first onto an integrated headphone plug at the holder’s bottom, then slipped in to the sides and bottom of the holder with its standard USB cap on. A plastic internal reinforcement keeps the shuffle stable and also runs headphone wire to the bottom of the holder, then up through the fabric lanyard.
We liked the build quality of the Song Slings we received, and felt that they were professionally designed and assembled. Like iDiddy, the lanyard includes two earbuds (and four total foam earbud covers), two plastic earbud clips, and anough material to suspend the shuffle at a comfortable distance from your head. Here, the plastic clips are permanently attached to the lanyard and the headphones are retractable to your choice of distances, both features that worked properly and better than in the iDiddy design. The top of Song Sling’s lanyard is a fabric band with the Song Sling name, which while flat and less irritating on the neck than iDiddy’s harder braided band, is a bit more noticeable on your neck.
Though less goofy than the iDiddy design, the Song Sling isn’t quite as fashion-neutral or -positive as just wearing the iPod shuffle’s packed-in lanyard and earbuds themselves. The retractable headphone cords are kept in conspicuous squared off boxes, and you do look a bit more techno-geek when you’re wearing the whole thing. On the flip side, though, the Song Sling’s three colors - gray, blue, and pink - may blend in better to whatever you’re wearing, and the similar-but-not-identical-to-Apple’s earbuds are color-matched, as well. They’re fine, but not great earphones - a little less bass responsive than Apple’s earbuds, but not by enough that most people would notice.
Other than fashionability, Song Sling’s only major failings are two in number: it’s not a really protective iPod shuffle holder, and we’re not sure that it’s a better alternative to just using the shuffle’s original lanyard and earbuds. Like Marware’s Sport Grip, the holder leaves your iPod shuffle’s entire face and back exposed, and shouldn’t be tossed into a bag or pocket with keys or other sharp objects inside. Thankfully, Mophie doesn’t call it a case - hence the fact that we’re not categorizing it as such - and it’ll do fine as a pendant if you’re not accident-prone. But it also doesn’t really improve on the shuffle’s own parts, and isn’t cheap, either. All things considered, we’d sooner opt for the cheaper Sport Grip and use our own headphones.
In the final analysis, Song Sling is a nichey concept at a price that only a select group of people will be willing to pay, the hallmark of our B- rating and limited recommendation. While it’s better executed than iDiddy, it’s still not an ideal implementation of its concept, again assuming that there’s really a need for a lanyard with integrated headphones in the first place. That said, if you’re interested in the idea, like the look and don’t mind the price, you’ll find the unit to be as useful as it looks in the pictures, as well-built, too.