Review: XtremeMac TuffWrapz
Pros: Very well-made, resilient silicone rubber cases for the iPod shuffle available in nine different (and good) colors, nicely protecting all of a shuffle save its Control Pad. Separate lanyard and standard USB caps included, good per-case price.
Cons: Must buy in three-packs that may or may not meet your color needs. Shuffle’s front controls are exposed; rear aren’t, but also aren’t as easy to use as in Power Support’s design.
A single, truly high-quality rubber iPod shuffle case for under $8.50 a piece? From a major manufacturer? It’s hard to believe, but XtremeMac’s done that with TuffWrapz, and the only wrinkle is that you’ll need to buy them in packs of three for $24.95. If you’re willing to bite the bullet and take three at a time from the company’s small pool of available packages, there’s a very good chance that you’ll be happy with the results.
Each of the TuffWrapz includes three pieces: a jacket for the body of your iPod shuffle, and two matching caps that fit the shuffle’s standard and lanyard USB caps. The main jacket has three holes - one that fits any set of headphones, one for the shuffle’s Control Pad, and one at the bottom for shuffle insertion. There’s a thin layer of protective rubber on the back for the shuffle’s rear controls, and a similarly thin indentation on the case’s front for the shuffle’s status lights. While the rear rubber protector isn’t as easy to use as the Power Ring on Power Support’s Silicone Jacket case for the iPod shuffle, it’s protective and adequate, and with the exception of the Control Pad hole in the front, we’d call the main case body as well-designed as any we’ve seen. Thanks to those thinner membranes, the shuffle’s lights are easy to see through both sides.
So too are the USB cap covers. The smaller cover fits the standard cap without a problem, and is easy to remove, as well; the larger cover lets you slip in the shuffle’s lanyard cap (or XtremeMac’s SuperHook) without any issue, and holds properly on either one. Neither the main case nor the caps bear any logos - a fact which we appreciate - and with the exception of the thinner rear membrane, there’s not a chance in the world they’re going to rip unless you deliberately take a scissors or seriously excessive force to them. That’s good news all around.
There’s no shortage of color options for the TuffWraps, either. As with XtremeMac’s hard plastic Shieldz, the TuffWrapz are available mostly in “food” colors - three-packs of Lemon, Bubblegum and Grape; Sky, Tangerine, and Lime; and Cobalt, Mist, and Cherry. The light blue “sky,” transparent “mist,” strong red “cherry” and strong blue “cobalt” were our favorites of the bunch - hopefully you’ll be able to find three in a pack that meet your personal needs. If not, you can feel comforted by the fact that other companies have been asking at least as much if not more for cases that aren’t as well-designed overall as these.
We also liked the ribbed textures of the TuffWrapz’ sides, which carry down onto the caps, and the overall protectiveness afforded by XtremeMac’s design. Predictably, our one and only issue with these cases is the lack of Control Pad protection, which Power Support (and others) have carried off without any problem. We get the impression that XtremeMac didn’t want to risk using a breakable thin membrane on the front, but there were other ways this could have been done.
If that had been included, and the price was pretty much the same, this would have been pretty close to the perfect rubber iPod shuffle case. As-is, however, TuffWrapz are a tie with Power Support’s more protective but considerably more expensive Silicone Jackets. You’ll get more for the dollar with the TuffWrapz, but a more protective case from Power Support. That’s a choice we’ll leave you to make for yourself.