Review: Contexture Design 45 iPod Cases
Today, we're doing reviews of several fifth-generation iPod cases that we consider to be somewhat similar to one another: using familiar shapes, they differ mostly in materials and pricing. For several reasons, none merited our standard-level recommendation; in a marketplace crowded with 5G case options, all of them could have benefitted substantially from design and price tweaks.
Contexture Design’s new 45 iPod Cases ($45) are the most unique, and the best of this bunch: the company cuts, heats, reshapes and pads old vinyl 45 single record albums for use as retro-styled iPod cases. The albums’ paper front labels are left intact and uncovered, so you’re able to choose a famous single from their collection of popular artists and songs. At the time of this review, the collection includes tracks and famous musicians from several decades of music: Billy Joel, Elvis, Quiet Riot, Janet Jackson, Roger Williams, and Lionel Richie are on the list, and you’re able to choose from songs such as We Are The World, St. Elmo’s Fire, I Just Called to Say I Love You, or others.
The company’s case design takes some predictable and unpredictable turns. On a positive note, an integrated plexiglass screen protector provides iPod screen access, while holes for the Click Wheel, Dock Connector, and the top of the iPod provide easy ways to insert, remove, charge, and control your fourth- or fifth-generation model. Rather than sculpting each case to precisely match an iPod’s curves, the company uses very generous quantities of inside padding: our sample was built to fit the 60 and 80GB fifth-generation iPod, and is too loose for thinner 30GB models. Contexture adjusts the screen and wheel holes, plus the padding thickness, for your iPod model at the time of the order; the result is a surprisingly large and body case with a soft inner filling.
On one hand, we don’t envy the task that Contexture has taken on by making these 45 iPod Cases. Having to resculpt, cut, and pad albums by hand is no easy feat, and it’s impressive to see how far the company has come with this idea. But while we reward novel ideas in the Special Features rating below, we had to deduct credit for the case’s Build Quality, which was a bit lacking. The Dock Connector hole on the bottom was misaligned - off-center with nearly no Connector space on the left - and the screen hole was a little off the 5G iPod’s actual screen location in height.
Similarly, the padding used here is more than a bit hair and dust-prone, and looks rough around all of its edges, while the album hasn’t been treated or otherwise laminated to protect its label or vinyl surfaces against typical damage. A lot of the iPod’s back is exposed - an unusual amount, really, for any iPod case - and the top is pretty much entirely open, as well. While some of this can be blamed on the source materials, the case just doesn’t look as professionally assembled as the majority of the iPod cases we’ve tested.
Overall, the 45 iPod Cases are a novelty, both in the positive and negative senses of the word. They do what no other iPod case has done, but also aren’t great enough iPod cases that we’d really want to carry them around for daily use. Absent a belt clip, you’ll have to pocket or bag them, subjecting them to possible damage we wouldn’t want to deal with. For these and other reasons, the 45 iPod Cases are better display pieces than everyday iPod cases, and marked with our limited recommendation badge for that specific purpose alone.