Griffin TuneBuds iPod lanyard-earphone combo
Dangle your Nano
Review Apple's lightweight iPod Nano would be ideal for dangling around your neck had Apple bothered to bundle a lanyard with the player as it did with the screen-less iPod Shuffle. It will sell you one, of course, neatly fitted to a pair of standard white iPod earphones, but that's not much use if you want something in black, or you fancy a set of in-the-ear 'phones...
Griffin's TuneBuds provide both. The product combines a woven cloth lanyard - not smooth plastic, like Apple's - that fits to the Nano's 3.5mm earphone jack and, for extra strength, the player's dock connector. At the other end of the necklace is a small plastic bead out of which spring the two earphones. Simple.
The 'phones are a pair of Griffin's own EarThumps and likewise ship with three pairs of soft rubber sheathes which not only hold each earpiece snuggly inside the ear canal but also help to block out sounds from the world around you. The bungs come in different sizes but you don't get the array of different types and materials you do with 'phones from specialist suppliers like Shure.
I've reviewed the EarThumps before and this time round I again found they deliver decent sound isolation and good sound quality. They're not the best of their kind, lacking the clarity and vivacity of the Shure E3g set I tried a little while back, but then they're a fraction of the price. I certainly found them entirely adequate for use on London's buses and underground trains.
I expected to have trouble with the iPod connection, but it proved tight enough to hold the music player upside down securely. If anything, it's a little difficult to get off, but better that than running the risk of dropping the Nano onto the ground. If, like me, your earphones are kept permanently plugged into your player, keeping the TuneBuds attached won't matter in any case.
I didn't like a couple of things about the TuneBuds, however. First, unlike the EarThumps, there's no case to keep the TuneBuds in. I reserve in-the-ear 'phones for particularly noisy environments like aircraft cabins, so it's handy to keep the earphones tucked away safely in a case, even a basic one like the case that ships with the (less expensive) EarThumps.
More of a problem for me, though, was the length of the lanyard and cables. Apple's set is adjustable, though the longer your earphone cables, the shorter the necklace. The TuneBuds provide no such room for adjustment, and I found the standard lengths a little too short. The lanyard's the right length when you're wearing it, but it continually snagged on ears and/or chin when I put it on or took it off. The 'phone cables aren't so bad, but jacket collars tend to limit their freedom of movement.
Griffin's own EarThumps retail in the US for a mere $20 - a snip, I'd say. The addition of the lanyard and iPod connector adds a further $15, which seems a little too much to me for benefit of being able to deck the player around your neck, particularly given the limitations I've just mentioned.
Like Griffin's EarThumps in-the-ear 'phones, the TuneBuds offer good sound isolation and audio quality for the price. It's good to have a lanyard for your iPod Nano too, but Griffin has missed a trick by giving you no way to adjust the cable lenghs. I'll stick with my EarThumps, thanks. ®