Company: Digital Lifestyle Outfitters (DLO)
Model: Care Kit for iPod
Compatible: iPod 1G-5G, nano (1G)
DLO Care Kit 3-Step Scratch and Cleaning Solution for iPod
We've reviewed a number of cleaning and polishing solutions for the iPod, and generally, there are a few common threads between them: they're all designed to remove scratches from the front of glossy iPods, rather than aluminum iPod minis or second-generation iPod nanos, they all remove some scratches while leaving others, and they generally cost between $20 and $30. Now DLO has joined the pack with its Care Kit for iPod ($30), which consists of three bottles of liquid and five cloths. The idea is that you can clean (bottle one) or remove scratches (bottles two and three) from the front of a glossy-shelled iPod or nano; because the product isn't a breakthrough in any way, we've opted only for a capsule review here.
On a positive note, DLO has gone out of its way to package the Care Kit in a manner that will catch your attention. The three cleaning bottles look like something you’d find in a Sephora or other cosmetics store, and the marketing here is unique - rather than just scratch removal, the kit’s “Daily Cleaner” bottle suggests gentle cleaning action that you can use whenever the iPod’s dirty. Contrary to the way most of these kits have been sold in the past, there’s definitely some appeal in the concept that you can buy something to safely clean your iPod whenever it’s dirty, not just when it’s been gouged - the only question is whether this is a smart or realistic idea.
Once we actually opened the package, the results were a bit less impressive. Our Kit arrived with a leaky Daily Cleaner bottle, the top of its label marred by liquid stains out of the box, and the pop-open cap splashing small amounts of cleaner each time it was turned upside down when closed. Thankfully, the cloths inside didn’t appear to be wet by the time they arrived, and the other two bottles were in fine shape. One of the cloths is reusable, washable microfiber, intended for “the final shine;” the other four are disposable and intended for application of the scratch polishes.
We followed the Care Kit’s directions for two different iPods with varied types of scratches - one was a fifth-generation iPod that had just been removed from an InvisibleShield and had only tiny dirt blemishes on most of its face, with two small scratches near its Dock Connector port; the other was a fourth-generation iPod that had been uncovered for some months, and had several medium-depth scratches on its screen. Our initial goal was to remove small adhesive traces from the 5G iPod’s face, a task to which we applied the Care Kit’s first bottle, Daily Cleaner. Starting with one of the disposable cloths, we applied bottle one’s fluid several times trying to remove the adhesive and other dirt on the iPod’s surface, finding the solution somewhat less effective than standard rubbing alcohol, which in small quantities does a nice job of removing pretty much anything on an iPod’s face. In fact, when used as instructed, the solution and cloth spread out the dirt that was on the iPod, adding some small screen-area surface scratches that weren’t previously there. We hadn’t intended to go through a full-face polishing job with this iPod, but now found ourselves doing so with bottle 2, the Fine Scratch Remover.
DLO’s Fine Scratch Remover is a lot like the green creams we’ve seen in other products - it contains a mild abrasive and apparently some sort of wax or silica plastic-like material that together are supposed to be used to buff out small scratches and then leave the iPod with a shinier surface. In our experience, this sort of cream typically works better when followed up by a specialized glaze that is reapplied and buffed, but DLO’s version is used almost in isolation - it’s first applied repeatedly at right angles to remove scratches, then left with a swirled last coat to dry, and buffed to create a shine. On our fifth-generation iPod, after several rounds of polishing, it essentially added a bunch of hairline scratches to the screen area that previously weren’t there, and even after following the buffing directions, it left the prior scratches less obvious mostly because of their new context. By contrast, it did a good job of removing the pre-existing scratches that were near the Dock Connector port, though some small hairline scratches were left there, as well. For best results, you’re supposed to follow it up with the Daily Cleaner, which we did, but didn’t see any improvement in the hairline scratches - they were hard to see when viewed on some angles, but visible on others. The Daily Cleaner’s also supposed to be smudge-resistant, but we saw persistent fingerprints and smudges on the surface only a short while after initial application.
On the fourth-generation iPod, our scratches were more serious, so we started with the third bottle - Heavy Scratch Remover. Like the other bottles, we gave this one a good shake to make sure that its contents were mixed up, and then applied several successive coats to the iPod, each with several minutes of polishing. Our medium-grade face scratches were reduced with the white cream, but very slowly, and not entirely, which we’ll note wasn’t super impressive by comparison with other products we’ve tested; we’ve had much better results on medium and deep scratches with some of the more abrasive creams and polishing tools sold by other companies. Despite its name, the Heavy Scratch Remover is pretty mild, and would require quite a bit of elbow grease and polishing time to improve a heavily scratched iPod. Once we’d done as much as we could do with this bottle, we switched over to the Fine Scratch Remover, first doing a bit more right-angle polishing, then finishing with a circular motion glazing process. The final resulting polish had not removed the medium-grade scratches, but had left them less visible than before.
Also notable about the Care Kit are several additional facts: first, the included tubes are in no way intended to be used with the iPod’s metal rear surface, which Radtech’s lower-priced competing option Ice Creme handles pretty well, though not perfectly. Second, the tubes are actually physically a bit of a pain to use. Leaking from the first one aside, DLO’s nice blue bottles are hard to squeeze, which makes dispensing the second and third bottles a chore when your hands are sore from polishing. We’d trade the nice colored bottles for better dispensers any day. Third and finally, given the Kit’s sales pitch and the $30 asking price, we would have expected more cleaning cloths. The included microfiber cloth is a nice addition to the package, but the instructions say that it’s only there for removing fingerprints and smudges, and not to be used with the Daily Cleaner, which means you’ll run out of cloths after only a few days of use.
Overall, the Care Kit is a nice-looking but only decent cleaning and polishing solution - one that, like some other options, will remove some light- to medium-grade iPod scratches, but will also leave new scratches of its own, and doesn’t promise to do anything for the equally scratch-susceptible glossy metal surfaces of most iPods. While an interesting idea, its Daily Cleaner isn’t backed up by the daily cleaning cloths you’d want to find in such an expensive package, and may actually add fine scratches of its own when used as directed. We view this package as a little better than “okay” for the price only because it can be used to achieve some plastic scratch reduction on moderately scraped iPods; we’d generally recommend that you consider other, less expensive options as alternatives.