I usually hate stuff like this. In fact, the very premise doesn’t make sense. If you wanted to convert your cassettes to Mp3, wouldn’t you have already done so years ago? And as for the rest of us, well…this is just misguided kitsch.
Yet despite its poor intentions, Ion’s cassette to iPhone converter is pleasantly surprising. It’s guided by thoughtful design: A clean, black plastic housing with recessed chrome buttons, a neat iPhone dock with just enough of a lip to protect the screen from an accidental drop. The back (the door for the cassette) even has a nice, minimalist window that shows nothing but a sliver of the take-up reel. No wonder the high-fashion crowd picked this up long before anyone even knew how to buy it.
It’s a clear throwback to the Walkman, and I’ll be damned if it isn’t a worthy throwback too. Ion’s description even says “…you can just keep it retro, and use Tape Dock to listen directly to your cassette tapes.” So really all the Tape Dock (apparently using caps makes it a product name) is a portable cassette player with an LCD screen. That and, you know, it receives calls, which is cool.
I’ll give this one to Ion (a.k.a the world’s most popular purveyor of flimsy, ceramic-cartridge wielding “USB Turntables”). Now only if they could invent something to convert my iTunes library so easily to cassette.
One last thing…This was supposed to be available at Hammacher-Schlimmer, but the kind folks there “regret that this item is no longer available.” I imagine they’ll bring it back. The price is a healthy $79.95, so Ion, if you send me a sample, I’ll be happy to review it. I might even take back all those nasty things I’ve said about your turntables, but probably not.