By Anthony Fordham

One thing that can’t escape the notice of the proud new iPod or iPhone owner is the wealth of accessories available for this family of devices. Whole racks, shelves, even aisles are dedicated to all manner of plastic goodies for Apple’s little music player.

The trick of course is to figure out which of these accessories and add-ons you actually need, and which can safely be skimmed past.

The range of gear can be easily broken down into three basic segments: add-ons that extend the battery life, add-ons which protect the device, and add-ons which increase functionality. Let’s take a look at what you really need.

Kensington LiquidAUX Bluetooth Car KitKensington LiquidAUX Bluetooth Car Kit – $149.95

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The iPhone

Before we get started, a quick note on the iPhone. The real genius of Apple’s design with this phone is that it really is an iPod with phone functionality. You can make calls with it, but also do everything the iPod Touch can do.

There’s a trick though: iPhones have an “Airplane Mode” (yes, US spelling) which disables the radio transmitter and makes the phone safe to use during a flight. And since the 3G transmitter can also interfere with speakers, plugging the iPhone into most iPod docks will actually automatically disable phone functionality – and turn the iPhone into just another iPod.

There are a growing number of docks and speaker systems which incorporate shielding, and send the iPhone a message telling it NOT to enter Airplane Mode. With these speakers, you can still listen to your music and receive and make speakerphone calls.

This is an important point to check whenever buying iPhone accessories: do they allow you to keep using the iPhone as a phone?