Review: Contour Design Showcase
Pros: The Showcase exemplifies a sturdy, slim, and secure case for 3G iPods.
Cons: A minor issue… the interior has no soft lining to prevent the iPod from getting scratched.
Back when we only had iPods with cool moving scrollwheels along came a case like no other for iPod owners. Contour Design released the now popular all-clear, plastic case called the iSee. This was one my top choices for my 1G 5GB iPod. It protected my iPod, was slim and trim and ‘showcased’ it for the world to see. Soon after Apple introduced the new 3G iPods, Contour Design went back to the drawing board and has since released the all-new-design Showcase.
One concern with many of our readers is that some cases on the market add unnecessary bulk to the iPod, but the Showcase gives you a slim profile, without compromising protection. The case itself is unique in the way it uses plastic and rubber to build layers of protection. The outer most layer features a layer of white rubber fixed to a clear, hard plastic shell. At first, I had hoped for an updated all-clear iSee for 3G iPods, but the Showcase goes a step further to had a layer of protection and yet the iPod still looks very much at home… the front ‘showcases’ the iPod while its sides and rear are ‘framed’ by white rubber.
I now introduce you to another one of its unique features… the articulating latch. What if you dropped your iPod, not good What if it were to ‘pop’ out of its case on impact that could spell disaster. Contour has designed a strong, yet simple latch that ‘locks’ your iPod into the case. It’s similar in concept to tool box latches. Flip up the bottom portion (indicated by an arrow) first to release the top latch, then pull the top latch away to open the front of the case. On the opposite side of the latch is a non-mechanical hinge which is an extension of the outer, white, rubber shell grooved in such a way to allow the case to ‘fold’ open or close.
The one-piece clear, plastic front has the usual cutouts for all the iPods touch sensitive buttons and although the distance between the plastic and the buttons’ surface may seem a bit too far to properly operate the iPod’s functions I found that it posed no problem what-so-ever. And the large hole for the touchwheel gave it a hard ‘boundary’ for your thumb to track against… enhancing my scrolling experience.
I also wanted to note that, the rear of the case features a clear plastic window and two rubber bumpers on each side that act as feet when laying the case on a flat surface. When used with the 30 or 40GB iPod you can view the back of your iPod in all its glory as the ‘iPod’ and Apple logos are framed. The foam insert will leave you without a ‘view’ when used with slimmer iPods.
There is a bottom slot for accessing the FireWire docking port and the top of the case has plenty of room to access the ‘Hold’ switch and earphone/remote port. Also, nice is the fact that you can open or close the case while your earphone or docking cable is attached.
When we first reported the Showcase on iLounge there were many comments made about the belt clip and if it were going to be strong enough. The Showcase belt clip is strong. At one point, Contour Design made the belt clip so strong they had to redo it so you could attach and remove it without requiring a pair of pliers. There are two slots on the rear of the case to attach the belt clip. Insert the bottom tab on the clip into the bottom slot then push and clip the top slot. The belt clip uses a large spring as you can see in the photo below. I attached it to my waist and gave it the jump and thrash test, and it stuck. Your circumstance may vary because of how or what you clip it to, be it a belt or just your pant waist. I recommend wearing the belt clip with a belt and one that’s not too wide for the clip to be ineffective. If you choose not to use the belt clip, it leaves the Showcases’ rear flat without any protruding parts, and makes it easier to slip into a loose pant pocket.
Another unique aspect of the Showcase belt clip is the way in which it is oriented to your waist, horizontal instead of vertical. This is intentional so that when you sit with the case attached at your waist it’s not going to feel awkward and dig into your thigh, and allows the case to be worn near the front of your waist and not at your side. There’s also no need to ‘swivel’ it out of your way as with most belt clips.
The Showcase fits all 3G iPod models. The included foam insert can be used for iPod models smaller than 30GB. My 15Gb iPod fit perfectly with the foam insert, but some may be concerned about the small amount of thickness it adds to the iPod. But for the protection, it’s well worth it. For those with 30 and 40GB iPods the case may appear bulky, but I believe it to be a non-issue for the amount of protection it provides. If you want slim, get a silicone case. Having two or more cases for your iPod is not a far fetched idea and I’m sure many of our readers already do.
The rubber and plastic surface provide enough protection for those daily dings, and yes it will get dirty being white, but better your case than your iPod, right? The belt clip is more than adequate, and the latch is a mechanical wonder for securing the iPod inside. If you want an everyday use, sturdy, hard case, and want to see and show your iPod, then this is the case for 3G iPod owners. And at $40, it’s a fair price considering all the features the Showcase offers.