capsule review

Contour Design iSee

At a Glance
  • Contour Design iSee

Back when the original iPod was released, Contour Design was the first company to release a "see-through" case -- one that protected your iPod without obscuring its chrome and white facade. That case, the iSee, was one of the most popular iPod case on the market until Apple released the 3rd generation of iPods, which no longer fit.

Contour has recently released new versions of the iSee for 4th-generation iPods -- one for 20GB models and one for 40GB models -- and the new iSee actually improves on the older version in several respects. After sliding your iPod into the iSee's bottom opening, a translucent, plastic bottom cover snaps into place to keep your iPod securely inside. To remove the cover you need to use a key or pen to press two locking tabs inwards -- like the original iSee, this is a case you should expect to keep on your iPod all the time. However, unlike the original iSee, once you open the bottom cover, your iPod slides out easily. (On the original model, it was very difficult to remove the case.) My only complaint here is that the translucent plastic cover clashes a bit with the crystal-clear plastic of the rest of the case.

Once in the case, most of your iPod is enclosed in hard plastic. The exceptions are the Click Wheel and the top edge, which remain exposed and accessible. However, a nice touch is that even though the top corners of your iPod are protected by the iSee, the case's top edges are flush with the top of the iPod, which allows you to use top-mounted accessories -- such as FM transmitters, voice recorders, and the receivers for remote controls -- while your iPod is in the case. Your iPod's dock connector is also accessible via a flip-down plastic door; unlike most cases that provide dock connector access, the connector is protected when you're not using it.

Finally, the iSee includes the same quick-release horizontal belt clip that comes with the company's popular Showcase iPod case. When not in use, you can remove the belt clip completely, leaving no nubs or latches behind; when attached, it's quite secure.

If you're looking for a case that lets your iPod look like an iPod, the iSee is a good choice. It doesn't offer complete protection -- the Click Wheel is exposed and there's no cushion to protect against drops -- but it prevents the scratches and scuffs most people worry about.--Dan Frakes

At a Glance
  • Contour Design iSee

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