iPod / iPod Mini with dock connector
You’ve seen these retractable sync cables for various PDAs, but now they are available for one of my favorite gadgets of all times – the iPod. Brando’s Workshop is now carrying their own branded cables which are available in both USB and FireWire versions.
Weighing in at less than 1 ounce (20g) and measuring approximately 4.33 inches (11cm) when closed, these little cables are small enough to fit in almost any gear bag.
Made of white plastic, both cables have two ends that can be ‘stretched’ out to an overall length of about 29 inches (74cm). One end of the cable has the iPod docking connector while the other end has either a full sized USB or FireWire connector.
The middle of the connector has a spring loaded winder mechanism that allows you to lengthen the cable as much or as little as you like. This mechanism works great just as long as you always pull both ends at the same time. If you try to pull only one side of the cable out, it will cause the thin cabling to snarl and jam.
I tested both versions of the cables with my Powerbook and 3rd generation 30gb iPod. I found that the FireWire version of the cable worked exactly like the docking cradle. Plugging it in would automatically start iTunes on the Powerbook, and also charge the iPod at the same time. Closing the lid on the Powerbook with the iPod still connected would continue the battery charging.
The USB version of the sync cable exhibited different behavior than the FireWire version. First of all, I knew before even plugging it in, that it would NOT charge my iPod’s battery. However, according to Brando’s site, the USB cable will charge the iPod Mini’s battery. What I was surprised about was the fact that once I plugged the USB version of the cable into the iPod, it did NOT automatically start iTunes. Instead, it just left the mounted iPod drive on my desktop. From there, I could open it and see various folders. Although not the music folders. Launching iTunes manually did not show that the iPod wasn’t even recognized as being connected. I’m not sure if this is something special with my setup or what…
I did try to use the same cables with my PC, but since I had recently reformatted my Windows iPod when I switched to the Powerbook, it wanted to reformat the drive every time I connected it. It did however recognize the iPod with both the USB and FireWire versions. The FireWire version also charged the battery through my PC.
So, what real benefit do these cables have over the included dock / FireWire cable that ships with iPods? The only reason I can think of that would make me want to buy one (the FireWire version) would be for traveling purposes. A retracted Brando SyncCharger takes up less room than the original cable coiled up. I almost leave my original cable connected to the dock anyway, and would not want to remove it when I go on a trip. With the SyncCharger, I can just toss it in my bag and have everything I need in a nice compact accessory.
I’m not so sure I can recommend the USB version though. I would have to hear from other users to see if my experiences are not the norm… If it’s FireWire you need though, go for it!
FireWire version syncs and charges
USB version doesn’t seem to work as expected
Cable can tangle if not pulled from both ends at the same time