Review: Vibewired Inc. Vibewired Shuffle
Many moons have passed since we've seen a new iPod shuffle or iPod nano case, but a company called Vibewired Inc. has come up with a new option for people who want to mount Apple's smallest devices really close to their heads. Perhaps unaware of H2O Audio's Amphibx Grip, it touts the separately-sold Vibewired Shuffle ($30, shown) and Vibewired Nano ($30, not shown) as the "only water/sweat resistant case[s] on the market to protect the nano & shuffle," with each model bundling together a thin, plasticy wrapper and inexpensive, 13"-wired earphones. We received only the iPod shuffle version for review.
Vibewired’s body is made of a thin foam material that feels similar to what’s sold in craft stores, colored either “camo” (shown here), black, or blue. A sheet of clear plastic is sewn to the inside and forms a window that’s just a bit smaller than the iPod shuffle itself. This leaves the front controls and VoiceOver button accessible, but the switch on the top can’t easily be reached. The case also features a “patented magnetic clip-on” system to attach itself to a hat or tank top strap—really just a set of magnets attached to the flap and rear of the pouch, which seem somewhat redundant considering the shuffle has a built-in clip. At the bottom is a not particularly waterproof hole that provides access to the headphone port. Taken as a whole, the holder feels pretty cheap.
The earphones are of similar quality. Despite the fact that the product’s packaging calls them 10”—and again, “patented”—they’re actually a few inches longer than that, and their cables arrive fused together so that you manually separate them from one another. Because of the cord’s unusually short length, the earbuds are best used when the case is mounted as advertised on a shirt or hat. The former turns out to be somewhat uncomfortable due to how the cable rests so close to the chin, while the latter strikes us as somewhat impractical. Changing tracks by reaching behind your head and trying to press the right button isn’t easy, especially if the iPod is upside down. And the earphones’ sound quality is simply not good. Music sounds muffled, and there’s not much bass. You’d be better off using the headphones that came packed with your iPod.
Vibewired Shuffle attempts to solve two problems—iPod shuffle waterproofing and mounting—but doesn’t do a particularly good job. As a mounting solution, the pouch doesn’t provide any value that the iPod shuffle is lacking: users can easily clip the device to any shirt or hat already without any need for a $30 accessory. And while the holder may help prevent some moisture from reaching the iPod, the large hole prevents it from being truly waterproof. Combine that with the cheap overall feeling of the design and the unimpressive performance of the headphones, and Vibewired Shuffle merits a C- rating. It’s hard to recommend for anything it purports to do; however, it’s better than no protection at all for the shuffle.