Plenty of iPod cases brag about how tough they are, but I’ve yet to find one that stands up to the Icyclear. Made of translucent or transparent Lexan, the same material used in both bulletproof glass and Nalgene water bottles, the Icyclear promotional material says that it’s “virtually unbreakable.” Although I didn’t have any handy firearms to test the case as thoroughly as I might like, I did subject it to a few drops and impacts of the kind that users might experience in everyday life — my iPod survived every fall.
The Icyclear comes in two halves fastened together by a pair of clips. You simply pull the two sides apart and place your nano inside. Icyclear also includes a clear static film the size of the nano’s face, which you affix to the iPod to protect its screen and Click Wheel while in the case. The case leaves openings for your iPod’s hold switch, Click Wheel, screen, dock connector, and headphone jack. The case also includes a hole for attaching a lanyard or keychain, though no such accessory is included.
In terms of resilience, the Icyclear is hard to beat. My attempts to damage the case resulted in some minute scratches, but no cracks to the case at all. This included throwing the case on the floor and repeatedly whacking it against the corner of my desk. That said, this impressive protection doesn’t extend to the screen and Click Wheel, which the Icyclear covers with only a thin plastic film. Both screen and Click Wheel are recessed into the case, which affords them some degree of protection, but the plastic film won’t do much against sharp objects like keys and pens. In addition, the edges of the film are on the ragged side, conveying a cheap feel. I also thought that the mount for the lanyard added more bulk than convenience, but some may find it useful.
Opening the case was a pain at first, until I realized that the durability of the case meant that I didn’t have to be ginger with it. Given that, the key is just to pull as hard as possible and the case will come apart with no problem. This also reassured me that the Icyclear is unlikely to come apart as a result of being dropped.
If you’re looking for a case that’s rugged and resilient, the Icyclear appears to make good on that claim. The screen and Click Wheel protection are not quite as robust as that of the rest of the case, but they ought to be sufficient for common drops and falls. Overall, it’s one of the most resilient hardshells I’ve tested so far. –Dan Moren