Review: LifePod Urban Camouflage ModPods
Pros: Nice-looking full-sized iPod cases with your choice of metallic or canvas exteriors, and one-size-fits-all (properly) vinyl iPod holders inside. Nice included accessory hand straps.
Cons: iPod’s corners are exposed to possible scratching while inside; PDA-style case design requires opening and closing to access iPod’s screen and controls.
Whimsical isn’t a word that often applies to iPod cases, but LifePod’s new series of Urban Camouflage ModPod fashion cases ($24.99) are exactly that: simple, cute iPod holders that look and feel fun. We’ve received and tested five different cases for full-sized iPods and five for iPod minis, each sharing the same basic design, only with a different color scheme and choice of materials. Other small differences are noted in the individual reviews for each version of the case.
Like numerous other cases we’ve tested, the ModPod cases for full-sized iPods use a flip-open, “PDA-style” design to cover your iPod: two fabric-covered pieces of cardboard provide front and back protection, and serve as the case’s major style focal points. LifePod pads the insides of these two parts, creating pleaantly soft, grippable surfaces, and alternates between glossy metallic fabrics and more traditional cotton canvas prints. Most of the fronts and backs match each other, but occasionally (in the green “RNA” case, for example), the front’s one color while the back is mostly black. The front of each case has a stitched LifePod tag, while the back has a nicely sewn metal D-ring for a detachable metal and matching fabric strap.
A ModPod’s halves are joined together at their tops with a rubber joint that slips over your iPod’s top. This joint matches the case’s color, and has a hole in the center large enough to let you pass any set of headphones through for plugging in to your iPod. At the bottom of the front half is a rubber and metal latch that snaps closed on the case’s back. The latch features a nice logo, and the snaps never had a problem holding the case closed.
Each case’s interior is very simple. A thin layer of one-colored fabric lines both the top and bottom interior sides, while a form-fitting piece of clear vinyl serves as the sheathe for your iPod inside. We use the words “form-fitting” despite the fact that the ModPods are one-size-fits-all for full-sized iPods sold since mid-2003; a 40GB fourth-generation iPod or 60GB iPod photo fits perfectly inside, while a laminated cardboard insert is included for thinner 20GB and earlier iPods. Strictly speaking, the insert’s not necessary, as the vinyl’s made well enough to fairly grip thinner iPods in its absence, but the insert does provide enough reinforcement that the opened case can be turned upside down without risk of slippage.
The design of the vinyl is pretty good, though simple: it covers your iPod’s entire face from screen to controls, but even so, you can still see the screen without a problem and use even the touch-sensitive iPod controls without an issue. There are holes in the bottom for the Dock Connector port and the iPod’s corners; similarly, the hole in the top leaves your iPod’s top corners largely exposed. A tiny plastic lip at the upper left corner of the case provides a token but appreciated extra grip on your iPod when inside.
It’s not difficult to quantify the differences between these cases and a series of CaseClosed Cases we reviewed last year (iLounge rating: C+): LifePod’s cases are actually hip, and with a few small exceptions, they get all the little details right. Despite the fact that we’re not huge fans of PDA-style case designs, the ModPods don’t have the cheese factor of the slightly goofy CaseClosed Sheldon and Clarence cases we tested; your iPod still looks like an iPod inside, while the padded fronts and backs look and feel good. LifePod’s choice of materials and stitching are both great, and the included hand straps (with lobster claw clasps) feel well-made and properly thought out.
Our small exceptions are these: since this is a fashion case review, we’re not rating on looks or pricing as much as construction, protectiveness, and practicality. When closed, the ModPods do leave all of your iPod’s corners exposed, and though the padded front and back pieces do extend enough from the iPod’s edges to limit drop damage under most circumstances, scratching is still possible. Marware’s TrailVue (iLounge rating: A-) is just one PDA-style case we can think of that pulled protection off a bit better. And on practicality, we still do prefer cases that you don’t have to open and close all the time in order to use and protect your iPod.
If these issues don’t bother you, and you like one of LifePod’s styles, you’ll love the ModPod case. It’s priced affordably, looks and feels great, and does a good but not stellar job of protecting your iPod. It’s worthy of our solid B+ recommendation overall, though LifePod’s target audience will definitely feel ModPods to be A-range products.