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Articles: Monster on Vacation

Whoever said that "half the fun of travel is the journey," must have been an iPod video owner. That's because without your iPod, trudging through the long security lines and the otherwise endless waiting can be too much for a lot of modern Americans to endure. The longer we wait without anything to occupy us, the higher our stress levels climb. It defies logic, but doing nothing at all can really be more stressful than a full day at work.

Most of us need distractions while we travel, or we might find ourselves talking to complete strangers about their cat's ailments or re-reading the leftover newspapers on topics we really have no interest in. Accordingly, we often arrive at our destination exhausted by the process of doing essentially nothing at all. The iPod video is the perfect companion for both the travel and the destination. If the iPod is your perfect companion in travel, then look to Monster Cable for a slew of perfect companions for your iPod. I have four new iPod accessories from Monster Cable that should accompany you and your iPod on that next trip.

The first iPod add-on will get you from your front door to your seat without the hassle that can sometimes occur with an iPod and earbuds only. Whether you are going by plane, train or bus, you will be packed tight and buttoned down. Your iPod will probably be tucked in a pocket or backpack compartment with its only lifeline being those white earbuds. You don't want to fumble through your pockets looking for the iPod's pause button just to speak with the ticket agent. Nor do you want to hold an iPod in your hand when you are juggling luggage. Monster makes the iEZClick wireless remote for the iPod. It has a small module that connects to any iPod with a dock connector, and it's wirelessly paired to a remote control. The iEZClick's remote control has large water-resistant buttons, and it can be clipped or strapped to your clothing. From the remote you can pause, skip or fast forward, and control the volume. Like the iPod itself, there is a hold switch that prevents accidental button presses. The remote is housed in a soft rubber housing with ergonomic curves so that it fits conformably on your wrist. No extra software is needed; you just need to have up-to-date iPod firmware. It communicates with its iPod-attached receiver via radio frequency (RF). So even if your iPod is buried deep in your luggage, you will still have full control.

Once you are on board and able to unpack, you'll want to think more about the video entertainment. In my family there is only one iPod video that we share. In these situations, my wife and I share the iPod video but sharing means we have to split the audio. For this, Monster makes the iSplitter 200. Not only will it transform one headphone jack into two, but it also has independent volume controls. This is perfect for me when my wife has the volume up to ear-splitting levels. Also included on the iSplitter 200 is a mute switch to completely block the sound to just one set of headphones at a time, the perfect feature for flagging down the flight attendant for some extra peanuts. The iSplitter 200 has a flexible 2" cord that puts minimum stress on your iPod's headphone jack. Now all that's left to do in trying to survive the flight is to ignore the guy in front of you who has leaned his seat back into your lap.

After you arrive at your destination, you may be faced with a rental car whose stereo system has fewer features than a No. 2 pencil. I generally discourage the use of FM transmitters for car audio connectivity, but exceptions sometimes need to be made especially when it's not your car. In this instance, Monster's iCarPlay Wireless 200 is an excellent choice. The most notable feature is how compact it is in comparison to its functionality. As it's really not much more than a cigarette lighter plug with a cable, the iCarPlay 200 will pack light. Just plug it into the cigarette lighter to charge your iPod after its long journey. Now that your iPod is getting juiced up, you need to tune it to an open radio frequency. This is done through three buttons on the iCarPlay's iPod dock connector and the iPod's screen. When you press the center button, the iPod's screen will display the exact radio frequency from which the iPod is broadcasting. Tune the car's radio to that frequency and listen to how it sounds. If it's less than perfect, you should use the innovative auto-tune feature of the iCarPlay. Not only can the iCarPlay store preset stations to broadcast on, it will also scan the current radio environment for the clearest station available. FM transmitters have always needed an auto-tune feature and Monster is the first I have seen that really works. Car trips longer than a few miles will often traverse between different radio tower ranges. Because of that, it's important to be able to select a different channel on which to broadcast your iPod, and when you are driving you don't want to mess with finding a clear channel by trial and error. With just a few button presses, the iCarPlay does the work for you. Not only is the new iCarPlay 200 easy to tune, but it's also one of the best sounding FM transmitters I've heard, with good bass levels and sharp sound.

When you are done running around during the day, you may want to curl up in the hotel bed and watch one of your favorite movies. Most vacations are expensive enough without the mini-bar charges or the premium hotel movie rentals. Monster Cable can't help you with the mini-bar charges, but the Monster iTV Link will save you from paying for those high-priced hotel flicks. The iTV Link connects to the Dock Connector of your iPod video and runs 10 feet to a standard TV. On the TV end, the iTV Link allows you to connect to RCA audio and composite video ports, or RCA audio and S-Video ports. As a former Hilton engineer I can tell you that, although they don't always like to, hotels will often allow you to connect your own video device to their TV. You may just need to ask to have it unlocked for you. With the iTV Link and a little effort you can have one more comfort of home with you on the road.

All four of these Monster cable iPod add-ons are good home companions as well as excellent travel buddies. All of these cables and devices can be found cheaper from other companies, but with a lesser feature set or lower quality. Just remember you will get what you pay for; Monster is known for providing quality and intelligent products. After all, you already paid more for an iPod's quality and features, shouldn't you use the same good taste when buying iPod accessories? If you don't care about all that, you probably would have bought a Zune!. Take a Monster on vacation with you; you won't regret it.

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