Considering the number of iPod nano owners who use the device primarily while exercising, the preeminent Apple gadget is surprisingly lacking in versatility. Essentially, you can either stick it in a pocket or strap it to your arm. Beyond that, there aren’t many options. Enter the iStik – an ingenious little accessory that makes the nano far more accessible for the workout crowd.
A few weeks back, Invention & Technology News reported on a pair of California inventors making a name for themselves with a new iPod appendage designated “2008 Invention of the Year” by the San Diego Inventor’s Forum ("Exercisers Get 'Stuck' on iPods"). That invention: the iStik - a plastic case for the iPod nano with four extremely strong circular magnets on the back. A separate rectangular plate with four correlating magnets is positioned underneath an item of clothing and the iStik case is placed on the outside (an opening on the face of the iStik enables individuals to control the music). According to the inventors, the powerful magnetic attraction keeps the two pieces “stuck” together through all sorts of grueling physical activity (running, cycling, weight training, etc.). This gives athletes the freedom to place their iPod nanos basically anywhere on their bodies. One vivid image on the iStik Web site even shows a girl with the accessory positioned on her bikini bottom.
Who decided the arm was the best place for the iPod anyway? Almost as fun as marveling at the iStik in action is devising new places to try it out (I’ll let you use your imagination on that one). While the inventors state thinner clothing is ideal for optimal performance, I actually found the opposite to be true. Positioned on my thin-polyester Adidas shorts, the iStik slipped a little while I was running. But on the shoulder of my heavy-cotton, long-sleeved shirt, the iStik didn’t move a nanometer - no matter how hard I ran. Even better than this newfound iPod versatility is the fact that the iStik provides a solution to what I like to call the “headphone conundrum”. A pet peeve of mine, many high-end headphones these days employ extension cords that result in the cord being either too long or too short (see my Shure SE310 review for more on this). But with the iStik, users can position an iPod closer to the head for comfortable use of the short cord or lower on the body for optimal use of the long cord. For me, that alone is worth the price of admission.
As I touched on earlier, the iStik does do a little slipping with thinner or sleeker materials. This disparity may require a trial-and-error period before users find the right gear - but once you do, it should be smooth sailing. Beyond that, there are not a whole lot of considerations here. The iStik is a remarkably inventive and easy-to-use accessory with a refreshingly original concept. With a reasonable price ($19.95 for second-generation nano iStiks and $26.95 for third-gen), the iStik should be a no-brainer for all the fitness freaks out there. And the accessory has an infinite number of potential additional uses too. For example, I can envision using the iStik to position my iPod on the outside of a beach bag so I can conveniently control my music without having to worry about losing the device in the sand. And that’s just off the top of my head. Regardless of how you choose to use it, the iStik is one of the worthier iPod sidekicks on the market.
For athletes or exercise enthusiasts unhappy with armbanding their nanos, the iStik will trigger wails of freedom not heard since “Braveheart”.
The iStik is currently available for purchase from the inventors’ online store (with free domestic shipping).