capsule review

iPod case roundup: classic mashup

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Although we usually group our iPod case reviews based on the type of case—leather, waterproof, exercise, and the like—when the dust settled and the teams were chosen, there were a few stray eggs…rebels without a category, if you will. I’ve taken these renegade cases for the iPod classic and lumped them into a group of their own. Here, we take a look at representatives from a variety of case types: an iPod pouch, a leather covering, a silicone wrap, and a protective shell. All four cases fit both the 80GB and 160GB iPod classic.

XtremeMac Verona Holster

XtremeMac Verona Holster

If you’re looking for a simple, professional-looking transport option for your iPod, XtremeMac’s Verona Holster ( ; $30) is your man case. There’s nothing particularly special about it: it’s a basic belt-clip pouch, made of leather, and reminiscent of a businessman’s BlackBerry holder. Your iPod slides in through the top—which is open for access to the headphone jack and Hold switch—and rests on a leather strip at the bottom. The upper and lower portions of the sides are exposed to allow for easy removing of the ‘Pod from the holster. The inside is lined with a soft fabric to protect your iPod from scratches, and the exterior consists of two fairly-sturdy leather panels that act as a rudimentary repellant against dinks and minor impacts.

Its downsides are mainly those obviously associated with pouch holsters. Since there’s no front-side access to the screen or any of the iPod’s controls, you need to remove the player from the case to actually use it. And the Verona Holster is designed for transportation; it’s not a protective case—the leather panels safeguard against minor bumps and bruises, but not major impacts, and the exposed corners leave your iPod more vulnerable to impact than with many other cases.

There’s not much beyond that. The Verona Holster comes in two styles: simple jet black, and brown with pink stiching. It’s an obvious—but efficient—design with a sturdy belt clip, and does exactly what it’s supposed to…with style.

Incase Leather Sleeve

Incase Leather Sleeve

In keeping with the “to-the-point” theme, Incase’s Leather Sleeve ( ; $30) is a no-frills case for the iPod classic that lets you see the iPod’s screen, as well as access its Click Wheel and dock-connector port, without having to remove the player from the case. Your iPod's screen is protected by a layer of clear plastic. The iPod slides into the case through the Sleeve’s top and is held in place by a velcro-secured leather strap.

There’s a leather-covered belt-clip on the back, and the case itself is form-fitting and slick; there’s no unnecessary weight or bulk, although the front is more like a solid panel, extending slightly from the edges of the iPod to protect it from cosmetic damages that may come from a fall or bump. On the other hand, the leather on the case’s face is a little flimsy and weak. The area above the Click Wheel, for instance, protrudes outward, bending the plastic covering the screen and exposing the iPod to dust. The screen plastic is also easily dirtied, making it susceptible to finger smudges and dust particles.

All in all, though, the Leather Sleeve—which comes in black, green, purple, and brown—is a good, professional-looking protector for the iPod classic.

Fruitshop Bone Classic Cube

Fruitshop Bone Classic Cube

We’ve reviewed a few Fruitshop Bone cases in the past, mostly favorably; the challenge is finding a place to purchase the products, as the company doesn’t yet have a significant presence in the US retail market. Nevertheless, Bone cases are unique enough that you may want to track them down. Like several other Bone cases, the Classic Cube ( ; 14) is made from a flexible, texturized silicone; is available in a variety of colors; and is a solid iPod accessory with some interesting features.

The back of the case, for instance, is covered with small cubes (77, to be exact) elevated in the silicone, which help the case maintain traction on flat surfaces to avoid accidental drops or slips. The front is textured with alternating-color squares—more for style and feel than any practical application. The Classic Cube comes with a stick-on protector for your iPod classic’s screen, and your player’s Click Wheel is covered with a thin layer of silicone with elevated button-labels for tactile control. To get the iPod in the Cube, you slide it not through the top or bottom, but by squeezing it through the screen opening.

The Cube’s Click Wheel protection is nice, but it’s also the Cube’s biggest flaw, as it makes it noticeably more difficult to scroll your iPod’s menus than when using the Click Wheel unobstructed. You need to apply greater-than-normal pressure, and sometimes it takes multiple attempts to scroll at all.

The Cube is washable and, says the box, 100% bio-degradable. It feels good in the hand, and—aside from the Click Wheel annoyance—is a relatively practical way to protect your iPod from dust and minor impacts.

OtterBox iPod Classic Armor

OtterBox iPod Classic Armor

Unlike the rest of the cases reviewed here, the main goal of OtterBox’s iPod Classic Armor ( , $50) is serious protection, and seriously-protect it does, using the same design and construction as the iPod Nano 3rd Gen Armor Case we previously reviewed. The case covers every inch of the iPod in a thick shell of hard, transparent plastic, guarding its cosmetic integrity and providing shock protecting against even gut-wrenching falls and bumps—the Armor is even waterproof to a 3-foot depth. Once you’ve slid your iPod classic into the case, where it connects to a headphone plug inside, the case is secured by a plastic, locking clasp that seals the front and back pieces together. You plug your headphones into the case’s own headphone jack on top.

Your iPod’s Click Wheel is protected by a thin, but still sturdy, membrane that allows for easy—easier than the Classic Cube, at least—control of the Wheel and its buttons. The back of the case has a removable belt clip that you can also use to manage your headphone’s cable; there are also two slots for the included lanyard. To accommodate for the size differences between the 80GB and 160GB iPod classic models, OtterBox includes a piece of adhesive foam that affixes to the inside of the Armor for use with the thinner 80GB model.

The case’s huge bulk, at 3 by 1 by 5.7 inches, is its biggest (no pun intended) weakness, eliminating the practicality of the case for use as a regular in-your-pocket iPod protector. Instead, the Armor is targeted specifically at users who will bring their iPods into situations where an unprotected device would otherwise be doomed; for example, kayaking, beach-combing, and mountain-biking.

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