Review: Contour Design iSee touch
With the holidays rapidly approaching, a number of companies have rushed to release new cases for the iPod touch, and not surprisingly, there are a lot of similarities between the latest options. Today, we're looking at eight new iPod touch cases, four made from transparent hard plastic, two from softer silicone rubber, and two from metal.
All eight cases start from the same place: they all cover the majority of the iPod touch’s sides and back, almost all of its face aside from its screen and Home button, and part of its top. Each one leaves part of touch’s bottom open, and provides some direct access for light to reach its brightness sensor. And they all try aggressively to complement the iPod touch’s thinness rather than radically thickening it with additional material. Consequently, none of these cases would accurately be described as “bulky.”
Of the four clear hard plastic cases we’re reviewing today, Contour Design’s new iSee touch ($30) certainly had the most potential. It’s designed by a company that has been known for its superb hard iPod cases, and takes surprising strides forward in protection and wearability. Unlike its competitors, it actually includes two rear shells, one of which attaches to a large white plastic belt clip that’s packed in; the other is flat save for four rubberized bumps that prevent the back from scuffing on a table.
As belt clips go, we generally prefer this dual rear shell option to the alternatives—an oversized holster, as it provides the same functionality without the bulk, or a single shell with holes in the back—but there are two limitations. Unlike Speck’s SeeThru, iSee touch’s belt clip works only as a clip, and not as a video viewing stand. Additionally, it doesn’t ratchet: it locks into one of four cardinal positions on the case’s rear and stays there. You’ll need to decide which type of clip best suits your needs.
Contour has also done something interesting in the rubberized protection department. Unlike DLO, which used hard plastic top and face button protectors, but left the iPod touch’s bottom fully exposed, iSee touch covers the Sleep/Wake button with a rubber guard that can be placed inside either of the rear shells, and uses a flip-open panel to cover the Dock Connector and headphone ports. There are a couple of issues here. First, the flip-out bottom covers didn’t work properly in our review unit. Both of the Dock Connector portions stuck awkwardly out of the port, and clearly weren’t cut properly, though the headphone port plug worked fine. Second, the covers help to make the case incompatible with Universal Dock accessories, and the bottom of the shell isn’t friendly to certain other Dock Connector-based add-ons, either. Thankfully the headphone port is fully compatible with even oversized connectors.
One other miss in the package has been a gimme for other companies: no screen-covering film is included with iSee touch. Some users won’t care, as the touch’s face is less scratch-attractive than many earlier iPod models, but given the variety of touch cases that cover both the screen and Home button, Contour’s choices to leave these open while covering everything else struck us as a little surprising. As we’ve said many times before, whether for the iPhone, iPod touch, or other iPods, we always prefer cases with full face protection.
Overall, iSee touch is a good but not great new case. Though it strives to offer considerable body protection, it skips coverage of the iPod touch’s screen, and its malformed Dock Connector cover will most certainly need a mid-cycle update. Similarly, while we like Contour’s approach to rear belt clipping and protection, the case’s lack of a video stand feature and $30 price don’t do it favors by contrast with the top-rated DLO VideoShell or other less expensive cases. This is a fine start, but we hope that a more distinctive and better-polished Showcase is in the iPod touch’s near future.