Pros: A small “safety light” attachment for Dock Connector-equipped iPods, including five colored caps that change the unit’s two LED lights from white to blue, yellow, green, or red. Works as a decent small flashlight with the white cap on, and a colorful flasher with any cap on. Small internal mirrors let you adjust angle of lights.
Cons: Price tag is higher than already expensive competing options without as much to offer; can only display a single color of light at once. “Flash to beat” feature doesn’t work very well. Included color-changing caps aren’t held on tightly.
Back in late 2004, Griffin Technology released iBeam (iLounge rating: B), an iPod accessory set that remains one of the most esoteric we’ve ever seen. iBeam offered iPod owners two separate top-mounting attachments – a flashlight and a laser pointer – which drew upon iPod battery power to achieve what could be done separately with… a flashlight and laser pointer. We and our readers thought the iBeam was pricey at $20, but still good for a few laughs.
Now two companies, Intuitive Devices and LUMi Ventures, have released their own light accessories for the iPod, each with a slightly different spin from iBeam and each others’ offerings. This review looks at Intuitive’s Blinkit ($30), which like LUMi’s Flasher for iPod (iLounge rating: B) attaches to the bottom of any iPod 3G, 4G, 5G, mini or nano, adding a flashing LED light system that’s billed as an “iPod safety light.” The core of Blinkit is a white Dock Connector-equipped set of two bright white LED lights, which are controlled by a single button on the device’s front. Intuitive also includes five rectangular plastic caps for the lights, one each in blue, yellow, red, green, and clear. You pop on the blue cap if you want the lights to glow blue, red if red, and so on. Unlike LUMi’s alternative, there’s no way to have multiple colored lights on at once.
When set on “flashlight” mode – Blinkit’s default – the two center lights together achieve nearly the same brightness level as Lumi’s single white central LED, neither enough to replace a standard $20 flashlight, but both fairly impressive for their small size. By pressing the front button, Blinkit switches into flashing light patterns – on and off slow and steady, on and off in slow pulses, on and off fast and steady, rapid-fire on and off, super slow on-off, and then a mode that is supposed to match the beat of your iPod’s music. In our testing, it didn’t do a very good job, and neither did LUMi’s similar feature – both contrasting with the superior performance of Design Annex’s earlier iBeat glowing headphones, which offered the same feature. You can turn off Blinkit’s light altogether by holding the button for two seconds.
The only other twist with Blinkit is a small metal slider that sits inbetween the two lights, virtually unnoticeable unless you read about it first. Pushing the slider up lets you move two small mirrors found inside the housing, reflecting the internal lights off more to Blinkit’s sides – “more” rather than entirely because there’s still a bit of light coming from the unit’s top. It looks more interesting on Intuitive’s web site than it actually is in practice.
It’s worth a brief additional note that though both devices consume relatively little power, Blinkit draws more in flashlight mode, and typically less when flashing. Blinkit requires a maximum of 100 milliwatts when in its flashlight mode, while Flasher needs only 57 for its flashlight. Blinkit’s “typical�? flashing mode, however, consumes less power (12mW) than Flasher’s average (46mW). That said, you can minimize Flasher’s power draw by using its lowest intensity flashing mode (2 lights, slow), and still get an experience comparable to Blinkit’s.
In all honesty, Blinkit didn’t give us a lot to get excited about. Despite its “safety light” billing, it strikes us as less appealing than and ultimately not as useful as LUMi’s Flasher as a personal safety device. For $30 – a substantial boost over the iBeam’s already iffy $20 price – we’re inclined to think of it as only okay on features, and too expensive given the cost of decent flashlights and other non-IPod safety gear. The only reason we’d suggest anyone consider it is Intuitive’s included array of colored caps, which give you a small selection of visual options, but could stand to be held on much tighter in a subsequent redesign.
Company and Price
Company: Intuitive Designs
Compatible: iPod 3G, 4G, 5G, mini, nano