Backstage: Vote on Podcast, preview 5 new reviews

Life has been crazy since I started full-time work with iLounge two months ago, and I have to admit that I really like it crazy. Between our Podcast, the Buyers’ Guide, tons of reviews and a few cool things that are going on behind the scenes, I’ve been busier and happier than I can recall in months, and it looks like that’s going to continue full steam ahead in the near future.

So, wonderful readers, I’m using this blog entry for two purposes. First, I want to ask whether we should continue doing Podcasts in the future. Comments on the first one have been universally positive, but as with all new technologies, there haven’t been enough comments to constitute a critical mass from my perspective. We have a vague sense of how many people downloaded the first one (thousands, not tens or hundreds of thousands), but we’re still not sure whether it’s worth taking the considerable time to create them for a currently small audience. Thoughts?

Second, in Backstage style, I wanted to drop a handful of new reviews your way before they appear on the main iLounge site: Audio Outfitters’ earPod, BTI’s Auto/Air Adapter, Macally’s PodWave and PodDuo, and Marware’s CEO Classic 4G. The text in each review isn’t finalized yet, but they’re close, and the grades are final. They’re here for now mostly because we’re not ready to push the iPod Photo, HP Tattoos and Socks pieces off of the main page yet, but like a few other pieces we have here, they’re pretty much ready to go live. Click on Read More for tons and tons of additional reading, but no photos. I could put up another five or so reviews today, but we’ll just see how this mini-flood works out for the time being.
Audio Outfitters earPod

We’ll admit – we have a problem. We lose the foam covers for our earphones with some regularity, mostly when the earphones go in and out of our pockets. We’ve lost a few iPod covers and a few cell phone headset covers, too. It doesn’t happen with earphones that include carrying cases – assuming that we use them – but it has happened often enough to make us receptive to a solution.

Audio Outfitters has one. The company’s earPod ($11.99) is a white plastic storage case that protects and winds the cord of earbuds such as Apple’s. Once your earbuds are safe, you can toss the case in your pocket or belt clip the whole affair on your pants if you desire. earPod is so simple in concept that we won’t spend a lot of time discussing it, but here are the basics.

Picture an oversized, all-white Oreo cookie and you’ll understand the basics of earPod’s design. Then imagine what you’d find inside if you spun off one of the Oreo’s cookie pieces: frosting, right? In the earPod, one face rotates off to reveal a large white padded hole with room for Apple’s packed-in iPod earbuds or most other in-canal earphones. Plastic spokes around the hole provide multiple openings for your cord, which then winds around the protective central chamber. After winding, you seal the case shut. If you want to use the earPod’s rear-mounted, small but sturdy belt clip, you can, or you can detach the clip to give the case a thinner profile for your pocket or bag.

The earPod does exactly what it promises to do, and we generally like how it looks and feels. While not a perfect match for the iPod in the sense that its matte plastic is dull by comparison with Apple’s acrylic, it looks good enough and is likely more scratch-resistant for Audio Outfitters’ choice of materials. And though it’s a little larger than we’d like – mostly due to its ability to hold more than just Apple’s small earbuds – we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to people who want to protect their earphones. It’s solid and well-made, and for $11.99 won’t break your wallet if you need its functionality.

Grade: B

BTI Auto/Air Adapter

American Airlines promised that our cross-country flight would be off the ground at 12:16, but it was 4:00 and we hadn’t left yet – no surprise given their recently mediocre reputation. Thankfully, we were counting on our juiced-up iPod photo to keep us entertained, but after four hours, the battery of a 3G iPod or mini would have been almost half gone, and a 4G battery would be down to two-thirds – before we even took off. Would there have been any way to keep the music playing all trip long, even despite the delays?

Answer: yes. Assuming that you’re in the airplane’s correct seating section – something you can plan for in advance – Battery Technology Incorporated’s new iPod Auto/Air Adapter ($24.99, available $18.99 and up) will provide the energy you need for as long as you’re on the plane. Made from two interconnecting pieces of iPod-matching white plastic, the power adapter doesn’t charge your iPod, but it otherwises act like a direct AC power source, keeping your music playing until it’s unplugged.

The Auto/Air Adapter’s first piece consists of an Apple Dock Connector plug and cable that leads into and out of a white power regulating box, which leads to an air power adapter plug. Apple’s Dock Connector plug is the thinnest and most compatible one we’ve seen with third-party cases, so we like to see it in accessories. A second white and metal piece transforms the air adapter to an auto-ready power adapter so that the Adapter can be used in your car, locking firmly to the Air adapter plug with a clasp. BTI includes a single greenish light on the power box that illuminates whenever power is running through the Adapter.

In-Air/In-Car Tests

We tested the Auto/Air Adapter four hours into the aforedescribed American Airlines itinerary when our test iPod’s battery began to show signs of discharge, plugging it in to one of the plane’s in-seat power adapters. Surprisingly, though many planes have been equipped with smaller ports that fit the Adapter’s air plug, this flight instead had a full DC power jack identical to the one in an automobile. Equipped with the Adapter’s auto plug, we had no problem switching over to a compatible power plug standard.

By design, the iPod’s battery meter instantly showed full power when the Adapter was connected, but didn’t display a charging icon as it normally would with devices described as “car chargers.

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