The Best iPod Case Ever ~ BitterSweetLife

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Best iPod Case Ever

When I sat down and cranked out my post on the best earbuds for ipods, I had no idea that it would end up being one of the most popular pieces on this blog, ever. The fact that a bunch of people found that review useful made me wonder what else I could review…you know, other than the books that I personally find interesting and would post about even if no one else read them. (Ha Ha.) How about an iPod case?

It was last summer that I put my 30 GB iPod Video through a brutal regimen of long, sweaty workdays. I wasn't sure I would survive, let alone a miniscule music box with no defenses against the natural world. Visualize buckets of sweat like you see in the Gatorade commercials (only normal-colored). Add to that an unholy amount of mud, clouds of airborne dust, flying pebbles, and wet, splattering plant innards. All in a day's work for a lawn care professional. But not exactly the conditions an iPod is designed for.

I rejected the surprisingly large percentage of cases looked like they were made out of discarded curtain materials. Immediately after that I rejected models that had screen protectors that had apparently been made hastily out of plastic wrap, and might be torn by a rough finger nail.

So heading into my summer with the mowing crew (my brother owns the biz), I carefully weighed how to give my iPod the best fighting chances of survival. After all, working long, muggy days in the Midwestern heat without the benefit of podcasts and music was NOT an option.

So I scanned the available iPod cases and immediately rejected the surprisingly large percentage that looked like they were made out of porous, discarded curtain materials. Immediately after that I rejected models that had screen protectors that had apparently been made hastily out of plastic wrap, and might be torn by a rough finger nail. Finally, I rejected models that were simply rigid, transparent boxes (function but no style).

At that point I was looking at the more quality iPod cases made with materials like thick rubber, hard plastic, and silicone. That was more like it. The downside was that now the cutesy cases you see stockpiled in department stores were out of the running. So much for that floral tattoo pattern.

In the end, I found myself looking at three options.
  1. iFrogz, nice for their degree of customization, though kind of bulky.
  2. XtremeMac, a different approach, since it's more of a sportwrap than a case.
  3. iSkins, which won points for the one-piece shell design and clip-on ease of use.
I was kind of torn. So, as often happens in these cases, I ended up with two models, one of which I would virtually never use. iFrogz and iSkins are similar concepts, but I chose the iSkin case because the reviews I read praised its durability. With fewer moving pieces, there would be less chance of moisture working its way inside. Also, the translucent, one-color approach had a mod sensibility to it.

I also decided to give the sportwrap a try because it was totally different, wouldn't have to hang off my waist, and I still had this unrealistic dream of getting back into running at some point. So, the XtremeMac wrap and iSkin case arrived. I tested them both. And the iSkin won out hands down.

Have you ever worn a ski mask made of neoprene? Or put on a knee brace? If so, you've experienced that clammy, over-heated sensation…ok for an hour or two, but not all day. With all the wetness, it seemed like the iPod would get flooded, not to mention that the neoprene wasn't much defense against hard objects. After thinking about it, I also didn't relish the idea of having a wide, untanned swathe on my upper arm.

So the iSkin case became the protective hardware of choice. And after nearly four months of hard core exertion in dirty, wet, rainy conditions, and eight more months of "normal" use, I'm impressed enough to write this very glowing review. Why? Because…
  • My iPod is immaculate. I own the 30 GB iPod Video in the very chip-able black finish—and the case kept it in perfect shape through dust, rain, sweat, and minor concussions.
  • The iSkin case looks good. I took it off for awhile a few weeks ago to "check on" my iPod. Then I put it back on because the 'pod looks almost naked without it. I like the style. If you like streamlined design, you will too. I chose the blue case, but it also comes in black, red, pink, white, and green.
  • All iPod functions are intact when the case is on—including the lock switch, wheel, and jacks. The case has seal-able flaps that cover the dock connector when it's not in use, so the system stays watertight. The only criticism I can level is that the click wheel scrolls a little more slowly because of the plastic membrane covering it.
  • I like the case's tactile feel. iSkin says their case is "precision molded," the "first silicone protector to feature an ultra-clear, scratch resistant screen and face protector." Whatever that means exactly, it translates into a slim package that's very grippy.In addition, the hard plastic waist clip is tough.
  • The iSkin case was affordable at under $25.
If you're looking for an iPod case that effectively fuses style and function, this is it.

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Randzig said...

Did you not ever consider the contour? Pretty similar. I'm happy with it also.

Ariel said...

I never did, actually. Must not have come across it in my searches. You're right, the design looks similar, although I wonder if it's as watertight, with the extra seams.


Culture. Photos. Life's nagging questions. - BitterSweetLife