One great thing about Apple's iPod is the music player's svelte form. One not-so-great thing is the fact that its chrome-and-white surfaces pick up more scratches than a new car in a supermarket parking lot. As a result, a cottage industry has sprung up -- iPod cases. But unfortunately, although most of these cases protect your iPod, few do so without adding considerable bulk, thus presenting iPod owners with a difficult choice: a svelte music player or a scratch-free one.
Enter RadTech's $20 PodSleevz for Apple's 3rd-generation (touch-sensitive buttons) iPods. Based on RadTech's excellent PowerSleevz for PowerBooks and iBooks, PodSleevz are thin (less than 1mm thick) microfiber covers that fit your iPod like a glove. Their material, which RadTech calls Optex, is tough enough to withstand tearing and scuffing, but soft enough that you can use a PodSleevz case as a polishing cloth for your iPod or your PowerBook screen. And with a little wiggling, you can fit your PodSleevz-wrapped iPod in Apple's iPod belt case.
Many cases force you to remove your iPod to use it, but your iPod remains fully functional while inside a PodSleevz case. A clear plastic window lets you view the screen, a slot on the bottom provides room to connect the dock cable, and embossed areas on the PodSleevz case's face correspond to the controls on your iPod -- the material is thin enough that the touch-sensitive controls still work (and thin enough that you can still place your iPod in it's Apple-provided belt case while the PodSleevz is on). In addition, one unintended -- but welcome -- consequence of using a PodSleevz case is that it ever so slightly desensitizes the 3G iPod's touch-sensitive controls. When you accidentally brush against a button, your iPod no longer skips songs or stops playback -- a maddeningly frequent occurrence in my experience.
A PodSleevz iPod cover won't protect your iPod from a fall onto concrete, but when you just want to slip your iPod into your pocket or toss it into a bag, a PodSleevz is perfect. You get protection without bulk.
(RadTech also makes a version of the PodSleevz for the mini -- the miniSleevz -- reviewed elsewhere on Playlist.)--Dan Frakes