We’ve long been slightly prejudiced against “skin” cases, because they add bulk to your iPod without providing much shock protection — most are good mainly for keeping scratches away. But Speck’s ToughSkin is an obvious exception. Although it’s even bulkier than other silicone skin cases, that’s due to thick rubber “bumpers” that provide significant shock protection on the corners and sides — it’s one of the few cases in which we felt comfortable dropping an iPod several feet onto a desk or floor. (We don’t recommend trying this at home — we’re paid professionals.) The soft but tough rubber also provides a great grip.
But the ToughSkin’s protection isn’t limited to a thicker skin; it’s also got hard plastic covers for your iPod’s screen and Click Wheel, as well as a rigid insert that provides impact protection for the back of your iPod. (The Click Wheel cover swivels out of the way when you want to access the controls. Our only complaint is that the cover sometimes takes a bit of fiddling to “latch” closed.)
Speck also found a unique way to account for different sizes of iPods: The plastic insert that protects your iPod’s rear is flat on one side but has small nubs on the other. When the case is used with 40GB and 60GB iPod photos, the flat side should be against the iPod. But when used with thinner 20GB or 40GB 4G iPods, you flip the insert around so the nubs face inwards to act as spacers. Unfortunately, these nubs are hard plastic, which means they have the potential to scuff your iPod’s shiny backside; rubber would have been a better choice.
Finally, the ToughSkin also includes a removable belt clip that addresses one of our case pet peeves: If you never use it, you can remove the protruding post.
Speck got nearly everything right with this case. If you’re looking for excellent shock protection in a case that still provides access to the iPod’s controls and connectors, you can’t go wrong with the ToughSkin. It’s earned a spot as one our most recommended cases.
(See our reviews of the ToughSkin for the iPod mini and for the iPod with video in our Cases section.)–Dan Frakes