Pros: Affordable, small, and cleanly designed accessory enables any iPod to have two headphone jacks for simultaneous use of multiple headsets or speakers.
Cons: Though a trivial omission, lacks gold-plated (anti-corrosive) contacts offered by competing product.
To date, two companies have released iPod-matching headphone jack splitter accessories, tools that enable the iPod’s headphone jack to accommodate two sets of headphones (or speakers) at once. Each accessory thus permits simultaneous two-person headphone listening or single-person listening device comparisons, though there is some potential for additional battery drain: both splitters are unpowered, and thus permit both sets of headphones or speakers to simultaneously drain power.
Macally’s PodDuo ($9.95, renamed IceDuo in 2005) is the most recent such accessory, and it’s also the smallest: unlike Monster’s iSplitter (originally $12.95, now $9.95), which includes a large white plastic hub and black cabling that dangle off the iPod’s top, the PodDuo is a T-shaped hard plastic tube that fits neatly on the top of any full-sized iPod. It’s only 2.2”? long, 1.2”? wide, and 0.4”? high, adding only minimally to the size of anything save the iPod mini.
A small polished metal strip runs across the PodDuo’s top, matched by metal 1/8”? headphone ports on the tube’s left and right sides.
From a functionality standpoint, there’s not much to say about the PodDuo besides that it works: it’s particularly easy for two people to enjoy iPod listening at once, as we tested it on a cross-country trip with an iPod photo. Despite sharing the iPod’s single headphone port, both sets of headphones functioned acceptably, with plenty of volume to overcome the roar of jet engines. We ultimately preferred it to the iSplitter solely because of its smaller size, which left just that much extra room in our carry-on bag for other goodies.
Though larger, Monster’s iSplitter does have one advantage.
While it doesn’t noticeably impact typical listening, the iSplitter uses gold-plated contacts for its connections to both the iPod and attached headphones, whereas Macally’s PodDuo doesn’t. Those planning on using a splitter under potentially corrosive (read: wet) weather conditions might well prefer Monster’s gold plating.
But otherwise, the PodDuo is a bit better of a visual match with any current iPod than the iSplitter, and its smaller size makes it even easier to carry wherever you go. It’s not a glamorous product, but one that social (and/or romantically involved) iPod owners may especially appreciate: a convenient design made for two, attractively priced.
Jeremy Horwitz is Editor-in-Chief of iLounge.