Review: NeoPod Neoprene Case
Company: The iPod Store
Colors: Apple Red, Licorice, Indigo, Graphite
Compatible: iPod 1G, 2G
Pros: Safe, snug, simple and offers full functioning play-thru design with unique double-flap feature.
Cons: Metal belt clip, excess glue and uneven stitching.
It was only four months ago that our wonderful digital hub device, the iPod, came onto the ever-so-popular mp3 scene. The only thing missing was a case for your precious, but easily scratched, small wonder. There were only two cases available at the time. JR Hill & Co., makers of the Leather iPod Sleeve, and Netalog, Inc., creators of the NeoPod, the first fully functional neoprene sleeve. At last, a cool looking case that wasn’t old school leather and fit the iPod like a snug glove. This is, finally, our review of a case, from which The iPod Store was born.
Features and Usability
There are only a handful of fully functional cases, the Neopod being one of them. What sets it apart from the pack? The NeoPod is currently the only neoprene iPod case with a play-thru design. Meaning, you can scroll the wheel, push the buttons, view the LCD display, use the hold switch and access the audio and FireWire ports. All this, while your iPod sits comfortably in its cushy enclosure.
At the top of the case is a unique, two part, Velcro flap, left and right of the audio port. This design makes for convenient access to the iPod’s FireWire and “Hold” switch independently of one another, while always having access to the audio port. It’s a nice example of innovative design and a first for iPod cases.
The NeoPod has your standard scroll wheel access for cases of this type, but it adds a 1/4” ring of clear vinyl sewn at the edge of the circular opening. A layer of clear vinyl sewed into the square opening protects the vulnerable LCD display.
We reviewed the NeoPod with a non-swiveling belt clip made of bent steel. I noticed some sharp edges on the belt clip near its opening. Just be careful not to, inadvertently, smack your iPod into its sharp edges while placing it into the case. A sturdy plastic belt clip, like the MARWARE SportSuit Sleeve pouch would have been more than adequate. I don’t like having sharp metal next to my iPod, even if it is on the outside. I can just see myself taking the iPod out of its case to show it off, then in a hurry, throw the both of them into my backpack and later discover scratches on my iPod. It’s purely hypothetical, but it can happen. Opt for the NeoPod with the swiveling belt clip, it’s plastic, detachable and you’ll feel better about it.
Fit and Finish
Having been made of 3mm elastic neoprene allows your iPod a very snug fit, something other more traditional materials lack. Though the current model provides adequate protection, I would like to see the next NeoPod a bit thicker, offering a more protective layer and added peace of mind.
The NeoPod is well constructed mostly. The stitching is well done, but better quality control would ensure that it it is evenly spaced around the openings. For instance, the stitching around the LCD and scroll wheel openings had shifted to the right, giving an uneven appearance. Our evaluation case also had excess glue at the ends of the Velcro strip on the back panel. Less glue applied during production would quickly remedy this. Again, a little quality control goes a long way.
The Bottom Line
Having the best qualities of neoprene, combined with a fully functioning, play-thru design makes the NeoPod among the most popular of the iPod cases. Another advantage of choosing a case made of neoprene is its inherent quality of being soft and friendly. You can’t go wrong when choosing this scratch free, plush neoprene case for your iPod. The next generation NeoPod case should consider adding a rigid, neoprene covered front flap for added protection. Expect to see a neoprene case with play-thru functionality and front cover from MARWARE in their upcoming SportSuit for iPod.