Pros: The easiest and least expensive way yet to connect your iPod to a stereo system with top-quality audio.
Cons: Can’t use with Apple’s Dock; a passive mounting solution may be required. Can’t charge and use cable at same time, either.
When video game accessory manufacturer Nyko announced in January that it would enter the iPod accessories market with a huge collection of new products, we weren’t sure what to expect. iPod-ambitious vendors of PDA (and other types of) accessories have been hit and miss on innovation, relying a lot on “easy” ideas that look and feel like items already out there. Nyko, however, hit the ground running with a wide variety of interesting new products, and we’re beginning to showcase them here today — starting with the mundane.
The company’s Stereo Link cable ($24.99, available for $9.99 and up) is a simple but pretty smart idea: why not create a Dock Connector cable that goes straight to stereo RCA left and right plugs? The theory behind this cable is one that serious audio lovers will generally appreciate: instead of buying a headphone jack-to-RCA cable and connecting it to the iPod’s headphone jack, you plug this cable in and pull better sound from the iPod’s Dock Connector port. While this could have been accomplished with the right SendStation PocketDock ($30) or Apple’s own Dock and the aforementioned cable (together, $50), Nyko’s solution achieves the same result for a lower price.
An attractive, six-foot long white cable uses what appears to be an authorized and slender Apple Dock Connector at one end, and two gold-plated RCA plugs at the other. Nyko’s logo is on one side of the Dock Connector; an iPod “this side up” icon appears on the top, both in red, matching the company’s attractive packaging.
When we connected the cable to our iPods and speakers, it worked perfectly, delivering rich, clear sound from the iPod’s bottom port. The only limitation we found, however, is one that some people won’t like: the Stereo Link doesn’t work when connected to Apple’s Docks. We tested with both the iPod mini and photo Docks, and no signal came out. Consequently, if you want to both mount your iPod and use the Stereo Link, you’ll need to use a passive mounting solution such as Thought Out’s iPed. And if you want to charge your iPod while using the Stereo Link, you’re out of luck.
That’s why we say that it’s pretty smart – though it’s highly useful for as long as your battery will run, a charge-friendly solution would have been smarter. It’s hard to complain about the Stereo Link given the price, but users of older iPods with less battery life may want to consider an Apple Dock or a PocketDock for extended stereo usage.
We also checked out Nyko’s FireWire Adaptor ($19.99, available for $5.99 and up), which is a clear and white plastic improvement on Apple’s one-time iPod pack in: a six-pin-to-four-pin adaptor that lets PC laptop owners connect the iPod’s FireWire cable to their machines. Few desktop computer owners have these small FireWire (IEEE 1394) ports, but a fair number of non-Mac laptops (including Sony and Dell models) have included them in the past. Apple stopped packing these in when the fourth-generation iPod was introduced, and doesn’t conspicuously offer them in its stores. Nyko’s part is a perfectly suitable replacement, though not worth “reviewing” per se as it’s so simple. We mention it just for those of you who may need its functionality.
Jeremy Horwitz is Editor-in-Chief of iLounge.
Company and Price
Model: Stereo Link, FireWire Adaptor
Price: $24.99, $19.99 respectively.
Compatible: iPod 3G, 4G, iPod mini, iPod photo