Review: NLU Products BodyGuardz for iPod classic
iPod protectors continue to be the most popular accessories out there, so in the weeks that follow the release of new iPods, the first truly new accessories we see are always protective cases and stickers. This week, we've been checking out the first products in each category for the new iPod nano and iPod classic: here, NLU Products' BodyGuardz for iPod nano 3G ($25) and iPod classic ($25). The iPod classic version is currently available only in a 80GB-fitting version; we're awaiting a 160GB-compatible one, as well.
Over the past year or two, we’ve become big fans of sticker-style iPod and iPhone protectors, as they enable users to protect their new devices against the most common types of damage—scratches and scuffs—without adding significant bulk, or preventing them from working with common docking accessories. BodyGuardz tend to be amongst the best of these stickers: they offer close to complete transparency, without the significant rippling textures we’ve seen in their competitors. It’s worth underscoring the point that all of the sticker makers claim that their stickers are perfectly clear, but in our experience, NLU’s have come the closest to the claim.
Having had a chance to test the new BodyGuardz, which are even more complex than past iterations, our sympathies for iPod sticker makers have just increased dramatically. Concerned about covering as much of each new iPod as possible, despite Apple’s unusual use of multiple materials, NLU has designed both BodyGuardz as five-part sticker kits: you get a sheet with four face stickers and another with one back sticker. Actually, you get two of each sheet for the $25 price, enabling you to cover two iPods or the same iPod two times with fresh stickers. Adhesive sticks nicely to the iPods, and leaves barely any residue at all once removed.
The front sheets include one sticker for the iPod’s aluminum face, one screen sticker, and two Click Wheel stickers—one for the touch-sensitive surface, and one for the central Action button. NLU’s back sheets include one sticker that wraps around the iPod’s entire glossy steel rear casing; the iPod nano version also has two small tabs that extend on to the bottom colored aluminum, as well.
BodyGuardz immediately after installation on iPod classic’s face, and then over 24 hours later after drying
After applying the stickers using an included fluid solution and a squeegee, a process that is once again a challenge due to alignment of the stickers, as you can see from our photos, each iPod needs around 24 hours to dry before it looks better than the “before” shots here. Initially, they’ll look awful, and you’ll wonder whether you’ll ever want to carry around your brand new iPod again. After they dry, they’ll look considerably better, but unlike their predecessors for fifth-generation iPods and first-generation iPod nanos, not quite perfect.
As with the back of the iPhone, which starts out matte-finished and becomes glossy when stickers are applied, NLU’s stickers add shine to the dull front faces of the new nano and classic. This can slightly change the color of what’s underneath, too: the charcoal black third-generation iPod nano looks even lighter under the gloss than it does without it, picking up more light when seen face-on. It’s also important to note that the stickers aren’t optically transparent, though they try, so they create a prismatic effect on the iPod’s screen when applied. Music-only users of these iPods won’t care at all, but frequent video or game players will find truly clear screen-only stickers sold by other companies to be superior options. Of course, if you don’t like these screen or Click Wheel stickers, you can leave them off.
BodyGuardz shortly after installation on iPod classic’s back, and then over 24 hours later when dried
We were pretty impressed by the extent of coverage NLU has accomplished with this generation of BodyGuardz. Once they’re applied, only thin strips of metal surface are exposed—generally too thin to be seriously scratched—though they can be seen on a number of places on each iPod’s body. Each of the corners on each iPod, the bottom of the classic and nano, and the top of the classic all have exposed areas that we’d classify as small and inoffensive.
The only objectionable exposure takes place on each iPod’s face, and then, like the screen, more for cosmetic reasons than anything else. NLU struggled to come up with stickers that allowed for the right balance of protection and ease-of-installation, ultimately deciding to use face stickers with tiny gaps on their sides rather than ones that touched each other. The company explained that the more protective stickers were too hard to align during installation.
Despite our best efforts, we found the less protective stickers hard to align properly during installation, too, and the gaps between the stickers detract from their otherwise acceptable looks. Seeing edges around the screen and the Click Wheel may be an inescapable consequence of trying to protect Apple’s design with multiple stickers, but perhaps not; we’ll have to wait and see whether other companies find ways to coat the nano and classic with fewer separate stickers, maybe using indented protectors rather than multi-sectioned ones.
Overall, BodyGuardz for the new iPod nano and iPod classic are good first stickers for these iPods, though they could both benefit from additional fine-tuning to ease their installation and coverage of the new models. Even when perfectly or imperfectly applied, they’ll offer substantial enough coverage of your new iPod that you’ll feel safe tossing it into a pocket or bag without using a case or other protection, but for the $25 asking price, we would hope for complete coverage that was even easier to get right.