Timex iPod-Controlling Ironman iControl Watch Review

I got my grubby hands on a brand new Timex Ironman iControl watch today. Like most watches, it tells you the time. Unlike most watches, it allows you to remotely control your iPod. To get that done, you’ve got to plug in a little dongle into the iPod which connects with the watch via low-frequency radio waves. Click the jump to see full pics and review.

The watch is light and has basic sportswatch-y features. In order to hook it up to your iPod, just plug the connection dongle into your iPod’s dock hole, and press any sort of control button on your watch. If there are multiple watches within range (max is about 10 feet), it’ll pick up the first pusher.

The 10 foot range, while fine if you are stowing the iPod in a bag or strapping it to your arm for a jog, is too short to be practical for controlling across a room (a more likely function for sloth-y Americans.)

The biggest problem, however, is the dongle. Most armbands fit snuggly around an iPod. An unsightly bulge at the bottom could prevent it from being practical for its intended purpose–exercise. And if you’re like me, you keep your iPod docked at home in, you know, a dock. By filling up the docking stash with the dongle, you are forced to plug your iPod into your sound system via the headphone jack if you wish to control it with your watch.

The watch itself is lightweight and comfortable. The wristband is molded into the watchface, which keeps moving parts to a minimum, but also means no replacing it if you don’t like the spiderweb-ish design. And the iPod controls worked quite well, even if there was sometimes a lag of a second or two (which could cause you to overshoot your target track or volume if you hold the button too long). And, as is expected for something designed to be used blind while running, the controls are a bit basic–basically you can play or pause a song, go forward or backward through tracks, and adjust the volume. And even if it would be great if the watch face brought up song and artist information, we’ll probably have to wait a generation or two for that dream.

As for basic watch functions, you can dip this thing down to 100 meters in the water, keep track of a 50 lap chronograph, countdown time, interval timers, Indiglo light, etc…

Overall the thing is nice, and works very well. They apparantly spent over a year in R&D on this thing, and it shows. In fact, the product works almost perfectly. If only the range were a bit more than 10 feet and you could plug it into an iPod dock at the same time, it would quickly be the type of device that is indispensable for iPod owners–whether they are running the track, or laying around the couch.

It goes for a $125, and is available at Apple.com now, but not in the brick-and-mortor stores. And it comes in lots of colors.