Here's a clever set of headphones from Japanese manufacturer Elecom that are specifically built to hold the latest iPod Shuffle. The company has created a very simple neckstrap/headphone unit that slips over your ears, and then your iPod shuffle docks right into the ear-piece. The obvious benefit here being that there is no longer any long headphone cord to get in your way.
Personally I was ecstatic to see Apple revert back from the third generation "chewing gum" shuffle to the clip style found in the second-generation . My old shuffle has gone through washing cycles and it still performs like a trooper. Like many iPod users, however, I'm not such a fan of iPod headphones, and I've replaced more than a couple of sets over the past few years.
Sadly if I want to use these fancy new headphones, I'll need to upgrade to the latest shuffle. Elecom's website states that the headphones won't support any Shuffles made before 2009, which regrettably includes the second generation model.
Available in two colors, pink and grey, the headset is priced at 4200 yen (US$50). And while that's not exactly cheap, it might be worth the investment for someone who likes a little durability. The ear pads are interchangeable, so if a pair does take some abuse they can easily be replaced.
The headphones alone weigh 46 grams (or 1.6 oz) and are being marketed for sports use. Thus Elecom has given it the unusual moniker "Actrail" – a hybrid of the words "trail" and "access". The ear piece is shaped to wrap over your ear with the strap curving around the back of your neck, which is intended to keep it securely in place while running. In the interests of safety, the wearer's ears are not completely enclosed, so joggers will still be able to hear some environmental noises.
The only potential drawbacks that I can foresee here is that the shuffle's controls might not be so easy to press while they are attached to this headset. Also if you're more concerned about appearance than function, then this might not be for you as having a big square iPod attached to a nice rounded ear-piece might draw a stare or two.
The Actrail will be available in Japan in late November. No word just yet on whether or not we'll see this one make its way to the rest of the world.
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