Here's how it goes: you're on the train, listening to music through your noise-cancelling, world-excluding, hear-no-evil headphones -- because that's the only way to make commuting bearable. Your phone rings. You don't hear it. Your phone rings. You don't hear it. Other commuters scowl at you, but you're lost in the music and can see no evil. Your phone rings. Someone slaps you round the head with a rolled-up Metro, unleashing the pent-up rage of the entire carriage, and before you can switch from trance to heavy metal, you're being kicked in the head by a fellow traveller in feel-no-evil boots. Bloody and battered, you stagger home to discover that your partner has left you because you never answer your phone.
If you'd invested in Gear4's BluEye, your head would be less bruised and your heart less broken. The BluEye is a remote control for your iPod that doubles as an FM radio and, more importantly for your well being, triples as a Bluetooth hands-free unit. Pair it with your phone and the music cuts out when you receive a call. Press play/pause to answer, talk into the microphone, listen through your headphones, and then press play/pause to end the call and restart your music. No more missed calls, no more domestic disasters.
Things we like about the BluEye include the small size, minimal weight and iPod styling of the clip-on remote, which takes its power from your iPod and doesn't need batteries. The caller's number is displayed on the screen of your iPod, so you can decide whether to take the call or pretend you're in a tunnel, and if your phone supports voice dialling, you can also use the BluEye to make calls. Best of all, ourstill worked normally when it was paired with the BluEye, so if it was more convenient to pick up a call in the conventional way, that's what we did. The audio can be crisp-packet crackly, but it's better than the silence of a missed call.
When you aren't on the phone, the BluEye functions as a remote control with play/pause, skip forward, skip back and volume controls. We wish Gear4 had put the controls on upside down, so they'd be the right way up when the unit is clipped to your shirt, but otherwise it works as advertised. An unlabelled button on the side lets you switch from MP3 to FM mode. The station frequency is displayed on your iPod's screen and you can scan for stations by holding down the skip buttons.
The BluEye simply has a standard 3.5mm jack in the top, so you'll need your own headphones, but sheesh, how many pairs of those do you own already? We're just glad to get a product that doesn't come with yet another pair of substandard earbuds. All-in-all, the BluEye adds a lot of extra functionality to your iPod for very little extra weight.
The BluEye comes in white or black and is available exclusively through The Carphone Warehouse for £50. It works with the iPod Video, the new iPod nano, the old iPod nano and 4G iPods with colour screens (but not the original 4G iPod). For more information, visit the BluEye microsite at www.blueye.co.uk. -ML