Review: Pods Plus Crystal Case for iPod shuffle
Pros: A clean iPod shuffle hard plastic case design available in several colors, each package including an adjustable/detachable lanyard and two interchangeable face plates.
Cons: No protection for iPod’s front controls/lights, rear switch. Limited compatibility with third-party headphones. Not watertight or as fancy as Apple’s official shuffle Sport Case.
Perhaps because Apple pre-empted potential competitors with the iPod shuffle Sport Case’s truly excellent design (iLounge rating: A), there haven’t been many transparent hard plastic covers for the iPod shuffle since its release. XtremeMac released the visually appealing but not-so-protective Shieldz (iLounge rating: B), and Agent 18 came up with Shield 4 Shuffle (iLounge rating: B+).
Now Pods Plus is offering the Crystal Case ($18.99), a design inspired by each of these earlier products. Each Crystal Case set includes two transparent face plates and one back plate, a fully detachable and adjustable lanyard necklace, and a plastic locking hub that holds the lanyard, one face plate, and one back plate together.
One of the face plates and a matching back plate are in your choice of five colors - green, blue, brown, pink or clear - while the other face plate is clear. You therefore can mix, say, a green back plate with a clear face plate, or go entirely green with both front and back places. This provides the cool shuffle color shift of XtremeMac’s Shieldz, but with added protection.
The Crystal Case’s protection isn’t as comprehensive as Apple’s, but then again, it’s cheaper. Pods Plus leaves the shuffle’s front Control Pad and status lights exposed with nicely beveled holes, and similarly leaves the headphone port, rear power switch and battery button uncovered - just like Agent 18’s case. It’s easy to use all the controls, but the headphone port hole will be a challenge for any large or odd-shaped headphones you may own, something Apple avoided with the iPod shuffle Sport Case by including a headphone extension cable. The shuffle’s pack-ins work without a problem, though.
As with Apple’s case, you insert your iPod with its USB cap on, snap the two sides together, and that’s it. Pods Plus’ included white fabric lanyard is roughly the same size and shape as the one that comes with the iPod shuffle, but uses a spring-loaded gray plastic ball for easy resizing and removal - a smart idea that could have helped Apple’s case, too. The Crystal Case lacks the Sport Case’s frills - a watertight design with side locks, different colored rubber piping, and the slightly sportier lanyard - but isn’t too much worse for wear because of their omissions.
In the value department, Pods Plus has done fine. Apple’s single $29 case is pricey but nearly perfect, while Agent 18 sells 3-packs of cases similar to the Crystal Case for $30, and the limited protection Shieldz sell in 3-packs for $20. Here, you get a case and a half with a better lanyard for $18.99, which isn’t a bad price point for a good case. A wider variety of color options and more plates per box would have been smart moves for the Crystal Case, but as it is, it’s a recommendable and definitely good option for iPod shuffle users.