Review: The Timex iControl watch for iPod - Macenstein

Review: The Timex iControl watch for iPod

Posted by Dr. Macenstein

If you are an active iPod user who hasn’t already succumbed to the Nike+ ad campaign, you may want to check out the The Timex iControl watch.

Timex iControl Watch

Available in 6 colors, the iControl is a rugged sport watch with most of the bells and whistles you’d expect from a watch in the Ironman series at this point (timers, alarms, countdown, INDIGLO, water resistant, etc.) but it boast a feature no other watch can (for the moment) claim – namely the ability to control your iPod wirelessly.

Timex iControl Watch

The iControl ships with a wireless receiver you connect to your iPod’s dock connector (about the same size as the Nike +) which allows the iPod to accept playback commands from the watch. You are able to adjust the iPod’s volume, skip tracks, and play and pause your music wirelessly, meaning you can keep your iPod secured on your arm, attached to your bike, in your bra, or wherever it is you like to stick your iPod while exercising. (If it’s any other place, frankly we don’t want to know.)

We tested the iControl on a number of iPods with dock connectors and it worked great across the line. Even the iPhone was able to accept the iControl’s commands (although the iPhone wasn’t happy at first, and wanted to go into its Airplane Mode cocoon. Also of note, the iPhone’s speaker won’t work with the iControl plugged in, meaning you can only listen via the headset, but you can receive calls).

The watch itself is lightweight and comfortable, but comes off a little “plasticky” looking, in my opinion. Obviously the choice of materials was made with constant sweat and shocks in mind, so it works well for a sports watch. The strap is comfortable, made of a flexible resin material which felt a bit flimsy at first, however proved to be deceptively sturdy given its weight.

Timex iControl Watch
Above: The iControl’s wireless sensor is a tad on the bulky side, and you’ll need a sport armband with the dock connection exposed to use it properly.

I found the thing I liked most about the iControl was it allowed me to give a broken 4th gen iPod of mine a second life. My 40 GB iPod’s screen had gone completely dead, and the click wheel worked very sporadically. However, if you plugged in headphones, you could get the iPod to play. Since this iPod was more or less useless now, I decided to load it up solely with my workout playlist and use it as my workout iPod. Using the iControl to skip tracks and adjust volume (2 things I could no longer do via the iPod itself) worked great, and saved me running the risk of damaging a newer, more functional iPod.

Timex iControl Watch


The iControl is a slick piece of technology that does all it claims to, but there are a couple additional things we wish it claimed to do.

On the Timex site the iControl is heralded as being able to transmit “signals seamlessly to your iPod so you can control your music in a heartbeat.” The “heartbeat” line is a poor choice of words, as it points out an important feature lacking in the iControl– namely a heart rate monitor. Additionally, I feel the wireless sensor is a tad on the bulky side, and of course, in order to use while jogging you’ll need an iPod sport arm band that has the dock connector exposed (or else you’ll need to enlist the help of a handy pair of scissors.) Finally, it’s a little disappointing that the iControl and iPod communication is “one-way” only, meaning, it would be cool if the iControl could read track info off the iPod and display it on the watch as well. But, this is perhaps asking too much of the tiny display, and who knows how useful that would really be. Pretty much when running I find I want to skip a slow track or adjust volume on a busy street, so odds are I wouldn’t really want to be glancing down at my watch trying to read it anyway.

Timex iControl Watch


Both the iControl and the Nike + work off a similar wireless iPod communication scheme, but both serve completely different functions. In a perfect world, the iControl and Nike + would merge to deliver all the features a music loving runner would want. As it stands now, the iControl works for me as the better of the two wireless iPod accessories. I’m not performance training and looking to challenge other runners to “virtual races”. To me what’s important is keeping my iPod out of my sweaty hands and being able to skip songs without fumbling for the iPod’s controls. The iControl does this in a lightweight, tough and sleek package that works well for in-stride song control.

Oh, did I mention it tells time too?

The Timex iControl watch

Price: $129

Pros: Lightweight, durable, offers play/pause, back/skip and volume controls for iPods with dock connector (and iPhone), available in 6 colors

Cons: No heart rate monitor, wireless sensor is a bit bulky, seems like maybe a $99 device

6 Responses to “Review: The Timex iControl watch for iPod”
  1. prescotti says:

    btw, the iControl does work with the 2nd gen iTouch. I did alot of research and I couldn’t find much so I bought it anyway. I hope other people interested find this as there is no information on the web to support this. It works perfectly!

  2. Laxman says:

    Thanks for the comment above, i’ve been looking all over the place to figure out, if this watch is good for my touch. Thanks once again Prescotti (that looks like the name you used)

  3. Scrooge says:

    Not so fast, I and others I’ve seen on other sites have experienced sound problems with the dongle attached to the 2G iPod Touch. Once the dongle is removed the sound returns to the headset. I’m out $125 until Apple/Timex resolve this issue.

  4. veester says:

    After having initial issues with sound upon attaching the dongle, I found that the dongle wasn’t fully seated. once the dongle was pressed firmly in place, sound came through just fine. Hope that your problems are as simple as mine.

  5. wickedashley says:

    Hey so yea I bought the icontrol watch shown above, cuz i have a 5th generation 30gb ipod classic and was told it would work. well it don’t. I have tried everything from updating my ipod to resetting the ipod. I tried it on my nano and it works fine but not on the classic. Is there anything im not doing please let me know i really like the watch but need it to work…. help

  6. gotlucky says:

    Step one: unplug your headphones
    Step two: plug in the thingamajigger
    Step three: plug in your headphones

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