Review: Speck SeeThru for iPod touch
With the holidays rapidly approaching, a number of companies have rushed to release new cases for the iPod touch, and not surprisingly, there are a lot of similarities between the latest options. Today, we're looking at eight new iPod touch cases, four made from transparent hard plastic, two from softer silicone rubber, and two from metal.
All eight cases start from the same place: they all cover the majority of the iPod touch’s sides and back, almost all of its face aside from its screen and Home button, and part of its top. Each one leaves part of touch’s bottom open, and provides some direct access for light to reach its brightness sensor. And they all try aggressively to complement the iPod touch’s thinness rather than radically thickening it with additional material. Consequently, none of these cases would accurately be described as “bulky.”
What makes Speck’s SeeThru for iPod touch ($30) different from all of the other clear cases we’ve been testing can be summed up in one word: color. Most companies’ cases are available in a single color—clear—and DLO’s HybridShell comes in clear and black or clear and gray versions. SeeThru for iPod touch comes in your choice of nine colors: black, blue, clear, green, orange, pink, red, aqua, or smoke versions are available. By historic iPod case standards, nine colors isn’t exactly risky—some companies have released as many as forty case colors—but as the lack of color options for SeeThru’s direct competitors suggests, Speck really does have something novel here by contemporary hard plastic measures. We liked the colors quite a bit, and though the touch’s dark face tends not to show them as well as the back, they do add to the touch’s design rather than detracting from it.
SeeThru also happens to be the thinnest of the cases we review today, and uses a novel, iPhone-inspired latching system that holds its front and rear shells nicely together with top and bottom rear grips. It also maintains Universal Dock accessory compatibility thanks to an open bottom, so it can be mounted in docks and speakers without an issue. Unfortunately, its headphone port hole is too small for oversized plugs, but users of Apple’s and similarly small earphone plugs won’t have any issues.
SeeThru’s major issue is its approach to iPod touch coverage. Unlike the DLO designs, which have full top and face coverage, or Contour’s, which tries to cover touch’s entire bottom, Speck leaves the touchscreen entirely open, and does the same with the Home and Sleep/Wake buttons. While some users won’t mind that these parts of the touch’s body are exposed, our ratings always take into account the best innovations we’ve seen, and by that standard, SeeThru falls a little short.
Additionally, Speck is the only company of the bunch to use an oversized black plastic belt clip and holster system rather than a slim detachable clip to mount the touch on your belt. On a positive note, the clip ratchets in small steps through 360 degrees of freedom, and pops out to become a reclining video stand, both features missing from Contour’s iSee. But the video stand feature is done cheaper and better in DLO’s VideoShell, albeit without the belt clip functionality or color options; the holster-style design wasn’t one of our favorites back when we saw it in Speck cases for the iPhone, either. You’ll need to decide whether SeeThru’s merits are worth the size and pricing compromises it entails.
Overall, like Contour’s iSee touch, Speck’s SeeThru for iPod touch is a good but not great iPod case. Rather than try and push the envelope on protection, Speck’s major contributions to the IPod touch case collection are in looks and thinness—at least, without the belt clip—which some people will appreciate more than others. If you’re looking for a way to colorize your iPod touch, this would be one of the first cases we’d recommend, but that aside, you can do better on pricing, protection, and accessory compatibility.