On-the-Go Accessories

I can’t imagine a day without my iPhone. I’m on the road a lot, and my iPhone keeps me in touch with family, friends, and business associates. It helps me stay informed about current news and find information fast. And it entertains and relaxes me with music and streaming video at the end of a long and sometimes stressful day. I even use it while engaged in sports or other fitness-related activities.

A number of accessory developers market products to help active, on-the-go users get more out of their iPhone. This article looks at some of their latest offerings.

Bike Cy-Fi Wireless Sports Speaker

$159; mycyfi.com

CyFiSpeakersThis one is designed for bicyclists who want to listen to music when they ride, but would rather not wear headphones for safety reasons (especially in unpredictable urban areas). The Cy-Fi Wireless sports speaker is a self-contained, Bluetooth-enabled stereo speaker system that provides surprising clear audio. It’s encased in an attractive plastic shell that is durable and water resistant. The review unit I tested survived my crude water sprinkle and floor drop tests. The drop left a small indentation in the plastic case, but Cy-Fi continued to play music throughout this and my other tests. Given the hard-shell construction and the sleek shape of the speaker, it’s obvious that a lot of thought went into its design.

Large rubberized buttons on each side of Cy-Fi make it easy to operate, even with sweaty hands. The stereo separation is best noticed when the Cy-Fi is mounted on a standard, bike handlebar configuration.

The iPhone recognizes Cy-Fi as a Bluetooth headset. In addition to playing music, you can use it to answer, converse, and place hands-free calls via the small internal microphone at the base of the speaker. Cy-Fi can be easily removed from its bike mount and taken with you and used indoors, on a hike, and elsewhere. Its rechargeable battery will give you up to four hours of continuous, loud audio playback.

The Cy-Fi is a great companion for bicyclists and others with an active lifestyle. However, I have one minor criticism. It’s nice to have more than one power adapter to charge the device, but Cy-Fi is charged using a proprietary charging stand. It would be more flexible and less expensive if it used a mini-USB port to connect to a standard power adapter.

Cy-Fi is a stable and unobtrusive stereo speaker system that delivers impressive audio quality while maintaining a safer, earphone-free riding experience.

Armpocket SPORT 20

$34.95; armpocket.com

CyFiSpeakersNothing is more aggravating than trying to jog or bike with an iPhone bouncing around in (and out of) your pocket. I have tried belt-clip and lanyard cases, but they got in the way or were too uncomfortable during long bike rides. Eventually, I settled on Armpocket Sport 20. Available in small (8x11 inch) and medium (10x15 inch) sizes, the case attaches to your arm or leg via an adjustable strap. Initially, I worried that the strap would cut off my circulation, but thanks to its flexible material and vented strap design, the Sport 20 remained comfortable to wear for hours. I did have to tighten the Velcro strap as my arm began to sweat from intense exercise, but it never hindered my mobility or blood flow!

The eco-friendly Sport 20 is made from 100 percent recycled fabric and provides plenty of room to carry your iPhone, keys, wallet, and other our essential small items. It offers easy access to the iPhone’s display while protecting the device from the elements.

Travel Battery Pack and Charger

$69.99; kensington.com

TravelPack ChargerListening to music on a long bike ride or watching hours of video at camp after a long day of hiking can drain your iPhone’s battery. If you need extra power on the go and don’t have access to an electrical outlet, check out Kensington’s Travel Battery Pack and Charger for iPhone and iPod touch. To charge the Pack’s lithium-ion battery, connect it to the USB port on your computer. (A simple LED battery gauge tells you when the pack is fully charged.) Then, slip it in your pocket or pack and head out the door.

When you need to recharge your iPhone (or iPod touch), plug the Pack into the connector on the bottom of your device. According to Kensington, the battery pack extends audio playback time up to 23 hours, video playback up to 7 hours and phone talk time up to 5 hours. My tests proved to be between 70 and 80 percent of those estimates. Still, having the extra power on hand when external power charging sources are unavailable really comes in handy.

Active technology for active people

The iPhone not only supports my current mobile lifestyle, it also acts as a catalyst for change. As the iPhone evolves, so does the quality and capabilities of the accessories developed for it. And as accessories reviewed in this article clearly demonstrate, the combination of the two allows me to be more effective, more mobile, and enjoy myself more.

I look forward to future iterations of the iPhone as well as new, more capable, and more exciting accessories!

Stereo bicycle speakers, sports case, travel battery, and more

Spring 2010
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