When I saw this Ear Shaped Cable Tidy on amazon not only did it look like a fantastic novelty but it also appeared to be a very useful solution to a very serious problem. The problem... tangled earphone cables.
Earphone cables have an innate and sneaky tendency to tangle themselves up whenever the opportunity arises. No matter how much time and effort I take to carefully and neatly place my earphones on my desk, in a drawer or in my pocket, the next time I come to use them the cable will have manifested itself into an impossibly complicated network of knots and twists. By the time I've finally managed to untangle the chaos (which almost always results in me managing to make matters worse first) I have either lost the will to live or at least the will to use the earphones for my initial intention.
I have a spectacularly short fuse when it comes to technology so although cable tangling may be a trivial matter for some, such instances are usually met with irate gestures and liberal cursing from myself. Neither seem to help but both are simply my default setting with matters such as these.
You can then imagine my delight when I saw this cable tidy on amazon.co.uk, promising tangle free cables from now on. Despite the fairly high price tag of £7.99 I decided that life was simply too short not to buy it and immediately found myself imagining a life without knotted cables. Reverie over, I also realised I had some amazon vouchers remaining so felt even less guilty about buying what is essentially a pair of silicone ears.
The Ear shaped cable tidy measures approximately 6.5 x 4 x 4 cm. I'm not sure what the average ear size is but they look fairly life-sized to me. The cable tidy is made from skin-coloured silicone rubber which has a very smooth feel to it and is also quite flexible allowing them to feel a little like real ears. Genuine ears tend to be a bit more pliable though but the overall shape and mould of the ears is satisfyingly accurate. I'm not going to lie, you will be able to tell them apart from real ears but they do look quite realistic and I am certainly not disappointed with their appearance.
To keep your earphones neatly stored and tangle free you simply wind the cable of your earphones around the central part (between the ears) starting with the input jack. Once wound, you then push each earbud into the corresponding silicone ear.
Inside each silicone ear is a small recess/nook which allows the majority of earphone buds to fit in. My main pair of earphones are the 'in-ear' type - those which have a moulded ear bud to help them stay in your ears - so the nook helps to accommodate these. I've also tried them with my 'in-ear canal' earphones (which stick out a little more) and they also fit in with no problems. Unfortunately, I no longer own any of the 'over-the-ear' style earphones (the ones that clip over and behind your ear) so I cannot say for certain whether they will fix securely to the cable tidy. I suspect that the buds themselves will fit in no problem but the over-ear clips will not clip over the ears like they would on a normal ear (the absence of a head is the issue here). Obviously, headphones won't fit on either but you can still use it to keep the cable neat and tangle-free.
I was initially sceptical about how well the earbuds would stay in the silicone ears given that they are less flexible than their organic counterparts, but once in - which requires a moderate push for some earbuds - I have so far found that they stay in place very well whilst still being easy to remove when needed. I have carried the cable tidy around in my bag and in my coat pocket without them coming free so the design can withstand transportation without everything unravelling.
Obviously, the cable tidy does take up more space than a pair of earphones on their own so putting it in your pocket can be a little bulky. My main purpose was to store my earphones in the house though so this isn't a huge issue for me but if you do need to carry them around then the advantage of having a tangle free cable when required is worth the excess baggage in my opinion. If I ever dared to put my earphones in my pocket before, it was a cast-iron certainty that the cable would come out with more knots than an old tree. It would then take me several minutes of intense concentration to sort things out, the time in which some people could have solved a Rubik's cube (and with noticeably less swearing).
The skin coloured cable tidy also makes it very difficult to misplace your earphones and makes it easy to find them when you need them. A pair silicone ears tends to stand out on a desk or in a bag.
Winding up a pair of earphones doesn't sound like it takes a lot of thought but sometimes I find that I get to the end and I don't have enough loose wire left for the earbuds to reach the ears. This means unwinding a bit which then leaves me with a redundant loop of cable sticking out, which looks untidy. For those of you who are less sad than myself this probably won't ruin your day, but as I have a little OCD (Opposed to Cable Disorder?) when it comes to these matters, I of course have to start over.
Another potential issue is that some earphones have a long plastic connecting bit from each earbud to the main cable. Depending how the cable is wound up these may stick out at the bottom preventing the ears from standing upright on a table. Swivelling the buds around can solve this though and there is always the option of laying the ears on their side - they will still look like ears.
I would definitely recommend this cable tidy as a solution to the woes of earphone entanglement. It does a great job at keeping the cable neat and tidy so that it is ready to use when needed. The novelty design is a bonus and would appeal to anyone who likes things like this. I am aware of other cheaper and less interesting cable tidies that serve the same purpose but they don't appeal to me as much as this design. If you want something different, fun and above all effective then this is one product I am happy to recommend. It would also make a great and unusual gift for someone and would not only raise a smile but also prove to be very useful, as long as the recipient doesn't have some kind of ear phobia (if such a thing exists).
=== Price/availability ===
amazon.co.uk: £7.99 (Free delivery)
IWOOT.com £7.99 (Free delivery)
menkind.co.uk £5.99 + £3.25 delivery charge (free delivery on orders over £25)
Thank you for reading :)