Serving the scholastic field hockey and lacrosse community since 1998

Archive for November 30, 2006

Nov. 30, 2006 — When in doubt, adapt

When I purchased my very first iPod, it came with the usual accessories — USB cable, AV cable, FireWire cable, plug-in charger, docking base, and so forth. It also came with two items that I really could have done without: the carrying case and the earphones.

I don’t like Apple’s earbuds at all. You have to wedge them in your ear canal and hope they don’t come out by themselves. Plus, wearing white cords dangling from your ears tells everyone around you, “I’m listening to an iPod.”

But I found a solution: the old-school yellow Sony foldable headphones that usually accompany a Sports Walkman. I have always liked them since I got my first Walkman, a WMW-800, back in 1986.

These days, however, Sony and other companies have been going with the earphones that either go in the earhole, or clip to the auricle, or envelop the ear entirely like a headset from the 1970s.

Sony no longer makes the yellow Sports earphones, but the foldable MDR-A35 is a worthy successor. It even makes talk radio on the AM dial sound fuller and richer than anything else out there. And I like the fact that I can listen to an iPod without telling anyone else I am doing so.

Now, the other thing I had to replace was the iPod’s case. It was a Lycra sleeve which has a rigid insert in the front and the back, and used the fabric’s elasticity on the sides to hold the player in the case.

Once, I dropped the thing on a very hard concrete surface in our building’s parking garage. The iPod popped open from the impact on an unprotected upper corner. After calming myself down and carefully re-snapping the player shut (whew!), I resolved to find a new case.

As it turns out, the millions of iPods and other MP3 players out on the market have spawned a secondary industry of companies looking to create exterior cases. The iPod cases come in a kaleidoscopic variety of colors, sizes, and features, made of all sorts of materials including leather, plastic, and rubber.

None of the cases, however, could give me the features I really wanted:

  • Edge protection around the side of the entire player
  • Access to the top of the player where the earphones plug in
  • Easy access to the front of the player (i.e., no front flap)
  • A clip or handle that is reasonably unobtrusive

I went to store after store. I even thought that I could combine two different cases: a jogging case from Radio Shack with an adjustable handle and a generic cell-phone case from Best Buy.

But I found a solution for less than one-seventh of the price of that. I found a generic silicone case at a Wal-Mart in Massaponax, Va. for 52 cents. Then I found a spring belt clip selling for four bucks at a Five Below near my apartment.

Voila! All the features I wanted, and such an elegant solution. My high-school calculus teacher would be proud.