Within weeks of the second-generation (2G) iPod shuffle hitting the streets, we saw our first two “cases,” from RhinoSkin and Mophie. I use the term cases loosely here because thanks to the 2G shuffle’s built-in belt clip, any protection you add to the player can cover only the front and sides — more like a faceplate than a true case.
And “faceplate” is a good way to describe RhinoSkin’s new iPod Shuffle Accents. Available in a four-pack that includes blue, green, red, and pink, each Accent is basically an anodized-aluminum face that slides onto the new shuffle from the top; a thin, neoprene lining serves triple duty by keeping the Accent from scratching your shuffle, adding a tiny bit of shock protection should you drop your shuffle while wearing an Accent, and keeping the Accent from falling off. (As to the latter feature, I found the Accents to come off a bit too easily when bumped just right.)
However, given that the new shuffle is already a fairly sturdy player made of hard aluminum, any case for the shuffle is mainly going to protect it against scratches. And because it covers only the front, sides, and part of the top of the shuffle, the bottom edge and rear are still vulnerable to damage. (Your shuffle’s Click Wheel is also unprotected, though that also means it’s accessible.) On the other hand, Accents are very easy to put on and remove, which is a welcome feature considering that you can’t dock your iPod shuffle with a case on — and it also means you can easily change colors with your moods.
RhinoSkin’s Accents aren’t going to give your new shuffle any serious protection, but they’re a fun way to change the look of Apple’s new tiny tot without adding much bulk. The biggest drawback of the Accents is that although they’re fairly inexpensive at $5 each, you must buy four; unless you like changing colors frequently, I recommend splitting a package with three friends.
UPDATE 2/9/2007: RhinoSkin now offers Accents with custom, laser-engraved logos/images. For information about this option, contact the company directly at 800-341-4674.–Dan Frakes