Review: Pods Plus Aluminum Cases for iPod Video and iPod nano
Pros: Hard, drop-proof metal cases for iPod 5G and video, each with a front hinged lid, clear hard plastic screen protector, a detachable lanyard necklace, and easy access to the iPod’s ports and controls. 5G version includes good detachable belt clip and nub, is slightly thicker than nano version, and comes in two sizes tailored to the 30GB and 60GB iPods.
Cons: Each case exposes iPod’s Click Wheel, ports, and Hold switch a little too generously, leaving scratch potential. Lanyard is not useful on full-sized iPod case; nano version is quite pricey by comparison with a more protective and better-looking option, lacks belt clip features.
We have previously opined that there is limited appeal in less than completely protective metal cases for the iPod; early metal iPod boxes such as Matias’ iPod Armor traded on the fact that the iPods inside were fully shielded from all sorts of damage, while subsequent cases such as Pacific Rim Technologies’ iShield have sought to achieve a greater balance between iPod protection and usability.
Now Pods Plus has released similar Aluminum Cases for the fifth-generation iPod (here, called iPod Video) and iPod nano, each for $30. These cases follows closely in the mold of the compromise, iShield-like cases, eschewing full front and back protection for easier access to the iPod’s controls and ports.
Aluminum Case for iPod Video
Two versions of the Aluminum Case for iPod Video are available - one for 30GB iPods, and one for 60GB iPods. We received only the 30GB version for testing, and found that it properly fit our 30GB model, but was a little too small for the 60GB iPod. Black and silver versions of each sized case are available, and while our review unit is a good but generic silver, the separate black metal nano case below is a bit nicer.
As with virtually all of the metal cases released since iPod Armor, the 5G Aluminum Case is a two-piece design, using a lid that opens with a hinge; like most, this one’s located on the case’s bottom. Both have small extruded grips on their top sides, and four extruded nubs on their backs to prevent the case’s rear surface from rubbing against any surface you might lay it on. All of the parts feel well-made, sturdy, and properly tailored to the iPod’s shape and size.
Each case also comes with a detachable black belt clip nub, matching spring-loaded belt clip, and a nice-looking “optional neckstrap” that’s silver and clear, attaching to two tiny holes in the case’s upper back. We really liked the belt clip nub and clip, which integrated well with the case, but continue to wonder about the utility of a neckstrap for devices as large as full-sized iPods. The weight of the case and iPod together are enough to make neck wear uncomfortable after a short period of time.
Every iPod-touching portion of the case’s interior is appropriately lined with a thin layer of black foam to protect against iPod scratching, so there’s no concern when you place your iPod inside or take it out - it feels snug, and safe. Closing the front lid results in protection of the majority of the 5G iPod’s body: everything but the Click Wheel, Hold switch, headphone port, and Dock Connector port is covered. An integrated hard see-through screen protector isn’t perfectly clear, but it’s close, and does not significantly distort the iPod’s video playback.
As with all of the compromise metal cases that have come before, the question you’ll need to ask here is whether there’s enough protection to suit your intended needs. The aluminum body is solid enough to withstand a drop, but it’s not the right case to toss into a backpack, bag, or pocket with keys or other sharp objects. Pods Plus leaves a half-circle of exposed area on the iPod’s back next to its Dock Connector, as a way to help you pop the iPod out of the case, and the headphone port hole is also generously sized - way more than enough for even oversized headphone plugs. Similarly, there’s nothing, film or otherwise, protecting the iPod’s Click Wheel from scratch damage. We continue to think that hard plastic protective solutions from companies such as Otterbox, or included Click Wheel film, do a better job of making cases such as this worthwhile.
Overall, the Aluminum Case for iPod Video is a nice-looking, sturdy metal case that does a good but not great job of protecting your iPod. The $30 asking price is reasonable given the quality of the body, its belt clip and nub, and if you’re buying it with the knowledge that portions of your iPod will be exposed, you’ll be very satisfied by its build quality and looks.
Aluminum Case for iPod nano
The iPod nano version of Aluminum Case is highly similar to the iPod 5G version above - the only major physical differences are these: its hinge is mounted on the right rather than on its bottom, its entire bottom is (for obvious reasons) open rather than just the Dock Connector port, and its top is entirely protected save for an overly generous Hold switch hole. The aluminum is also noticeably thinner than on the larger iPod case, but not objectionably so; the case still feels solid and resilient, and equally able to resist a drop or crush, save for its exposed portions.
In protection, it’s almost the equivalent of Core Cases’ cheaper Aluminum Case for iPod nano (iLounge rating: B+), but not quite: Core’s Click Wheel hole is a bit smaller, while Pods Plus uses a generous hole that exposes a bit of the nano’s body surface. The Aluminum Case is also less protective than (but also less expensive than) both eXopod’s metal Naomi (iLounge rating: B+) and A1QP’s iKeychain (iLounge rating: B), both of which offer substantial metal protection with a smart magnetized opening and closing system.
On features, it has one advantage and one disadvantage relative to the Core Cases offering: it includes a lanyard necklace, but lacks Core’s smart low-profile belt clip. Unlike the full-sized version of the Aluminum Case, the nano case has a flat back with no belt clip or nub, a fact which some users will mind more than others.
Lanyard aside, we preferred Core Case’s offering by a fair margin over the Aluminum Case on color, design, and pricing: the $30-and-up nano cases we’ve seen tend to be more protective than this one, and it still doesn’t make a lot of sense to us when a company charges the same price for a less evolved nano case and a superior full-sized iPod case. Our limited recommendation doesn’t reflect anything terrible about Aluminum Case for iPod nano, but just that it’s hard to suggest this case for any major reason save the lanyard given other options we’ve seen and preferred on design, pricing, and protectivity.