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Although I cover most iPod-related products over on Playlist, I occasionally find something that’s both impressive and inexpensive—which makes it perfect or Mac Gems, as well.

If you’ve got a new iPod nano or iPod with video, chances are you’d like to keep it looking like new—for example, you may be concerned about scratching its shiny face. A case is a safe bet, but the problem with cases is that they add bulk to a player that’s appealing partly because of its svelte figure. And, with a few exceptions, putting your iPod into a case means masking its attractive, chrome and white (or black) appearance.

For keeping your iPod scratch-free without hiding it in a case, your best bet is one of the many “film” or “shield” products that cover scratchable surfaces in a clear film—your iPod still looks like an iPod but doesn’t scratch like one. There are a number of good options out there, including the quite-protective-but-difficult-to-apply invisibleSHIELD, but my favorites are Power Support’s $15 iPod nano Film Set and 5G iPod (with video) Film Set (both   ).

Power Support nano Film Set

Unlike most “films,” which are soft and flexible—and tend to rip or peel over time—Power Support’s Film Sets are made of a more rigid material that is very durable. (Power Support says that the surface of the Film is “treated with a scratch resistant, hard coat, protective process.”) In addition, whereas more flexible films are often difficult to apply without air bubbles and leave sticky residue when removed, Power Support’s Film is easy to apply and can be removed without leaving any gunk behind. (The Film actually uses “static cling” to adhere to your iPod.)

Both film sets include three pieces: a large film for the front of your iPod except for the Click Wheel, a smaller film for the back of your iPod, and a Click Wheel cover. The front piece protects the entire front of the iPod, right up to the edges; however, in order to avoid “hanging” corners that could peel, the film for the rear of your iPod does not cover the curved edges of the chrome back. In other words, unlike the invisibleSHIELD, which covers nearly ever bit of your iPod’s surfaces, the Film Set leaves the sides exposed. I’m personally fine with this sacrifice, as in my experience it’s the front and back of the iPod that get scratched—and scratches on the sides aren’t as noticeable.

The only other quirk that should be pointed out is that it can take some trial-and-error to apply the front piece and Click Wheel cover without overlapping them. I’ve personally chosen not to apply the Click Wheel cover, as the Click Wheel doesn’t scratch that easily (or at least not as noticeably).

The Film Sets offer excellent scratch protection without adding bulk to your iPod or obscuring its sleek lines. In fact, you can even fit your Film-clad iPod into most cases—for example, if you’re going for a run and want to stick your nano in a shock-resistant case. I’ve got a Film Set on both my nano and my iPod with video, and both look as new as they did when they came home from the store. In fact, even the sides of the iPods look great, so perhaps these edges don’t take as much abuse as I had expected. Best of all, the Film Set remains nearly invisible when applied: When I’ve shown a Film-clad iPod to people, none have realized that the player is “wearing” the Film until I’ve pointed it out. I consider Power Support’s Film Sets to be must-have accessories for my own iPods.

The Film Set for iPod nano is currently shipping; the version for the iPod (with video) should ship in the next week or so.

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