Belkin SportCommand for iPod
Control your iPod wirelessly while you work out
By John Virata
The iPod is a great device to listen to when working out or pursuing other outdoor recreational endeavors, be it running, jogging, snowboarding or mountain biking. It is always nice to have your favorite tunes at your fingertips, at the ready for what ever mood strikes your fancy. But the iPod does have a few drawbacks in this regard however, as it is not easily controlled when used in such situations. The iPod economy that continues to chug along has helped with control issues, with companies offering all sorts of solutions to make recreational activities with the iPod a much easier experience. Belkin, manufacturer of a wide range of products, ranging from surge suppressors to wireless routers, has released the SportCommand for iPod, a combination wireless receiver/transmitter that enables you to control your iPod without actually touching it.
How it works
The SportCommand comes with a receiver that connects to the iPod's dock connector. It works with the iPod with video (30GB, 60GB), iPod (20GB, 40GB, U2 Special Edition), iPod with color display, iPod mini, and iPod nano (1GB, 2GB, 4GB). With the receiver, you can place the iPod anywhere on your person, in a purse or backpack, and control it with the Transmitter. The Transmitter, which is powered by a standard CR2032 battery is how you can control the volume, pause/play, and reverse/forward controls of the iPod. It doesn't enable you to control playlists.
The Transmitter is housed in a water resistant, tear proof material. It features big buttons that enable you to control the iPod's basic functionality (play/pause, next/previous track, and volume up/down). The Transmitter features a Velcro back for attaching to the included Neoprene and Velcro armband, or you can hook the Transmitter to the included Carabiner clip for even more versatility. While the armband is ideal for situations such as running or mountain biking, the Carabiner clip is an ideal solution for sports such as skiing or snowboarding. You can just hook the clip and Transmitter onto your jacket, place your iPod into an inside pocket and snake the ear buds through the collar area and you are good to go. Your iPod stays relatively safe within the weatherproof confines of a jacket pocket, and you have control of it on the outside via the Transmitter. The SportCommand is really a fiendishly simple design that works great.
I tested the SportCommand in several situations; running and mountain biking. While running a 5k, I wore the armband and placed the Transmitter on the Velcro base. The armband is fully adjustable so no issues there. Running with SportCommand, you have to first get a feel for the response of the buttons. While they are big enough to push, pushing too hard or too soft elicited no response, so you've got to deal with the issue of Goldilocks, how much pressure is enough? It takes a while, but soon it becomes second nature to adjust the volume, pause/play, or reverse/forward to another song. While mountain biking I wrapped the armband around a handlebar mounted water bottle and put the iPod with receiver into a Camelback pocket. While riding, I can now adjust the volume and change songs easily without having to touch the iPod! The SportCommand is a must have iPod accessory for those who are into active outdoor recreation and want to bring their favorite music where they partake recreation. Don't even think about spending big dollars for an expensive, iPod-friendly snowboard jacket that enables you to control the iPod on the sleeve. The SportCommand will do the exact same thing for a fraction of the price, plus it is portable. The only issue that you will have with the SportCommand is actually finding one for sale due to high demand. As of November 2006, the company has a sold out sign on its website, though you might find one elsewhere. $79.99 Highly Recommended. For more information, visit www.belkin.com