Company: Digital Lifestyle Outfitters (DLO)
Model: Jam Jacket Multiclip
Compatible: iPod touch
DLO Jam Jacket Multiclip for iPod touch
For the past six months, DLO's been on a serious design roll, releasing fabric, hard plastic, and rubber cases that are amongst the best in its six-year history. Today, we look at two $20 silicone rubber cases that interestingly break the company's molds in both looks and features: the Jam Jacket Design for iPod nano, and Jam Jacket Multiclip for iPod touch. Of the two cases, Multiclip struck us as a substantially better offering, but Design also brings something new to the table.
For years, DLO’s rubber Jam Jacket cases have been boldly colored and aggressively molded, featuring distinctive front, back, and side ridges and curves, neon tones and interesting features. These new Jam Jackets are comparatively austere, at least from the front and sides: both have subtly elevated edges around the screen and controls, but not much else besides small DLO logos; they are also sold only in black. Neither the coloration nor their shapes screams “look at me” or “grip me;” which depending on your personal taste and needs may be a good thing.
What’s new here is each case’s back. Design for iPod nano appears to have been made from frosted clear rubber coated in opaque black ink, which was either not applied or removed on parts of the case’s back, leaving a piece of art behind. Our review sample featured the image of an eagle with branches in its talons, resembling colonial era art used on currency. While interesting in concept, the “etched” art isn’t equally clear at all points, and winds up looking a little blotchy and obscured in certain areas. It’s our impression that silkscreening or picking art with thicker lines might help future iterations of Jam Jacket Design to better achieve their intended results.
Multiclip for iPod touch has no art on the back; instead, it features a unique swiveling clip on the rear. This clip, unlike any other we’ve seen, can be popped out to serve as a widescreen video stand or a place to wrap your earphone cords for storage, or kept in its standard position to function as an X-shaped belt mount.
What’s so interesting about this clip is that it simultaneously solves three challenges that DLO and others have previously faced in designing iPod cases: how do you fit a belt clip, a cable manager, and a video stand on one flat surface rather than forcing a user to buy a product with only one or two of those features? Jam Jacket Multiclip’s alternative, coated in soft touch rubber, does all three things and looks cool, too—better, to our eyes, than the recessed ear bud holes of past cable managing Jam Jackets. The only thing missing is the ability to remove the clip; its presence basically doubles iPod touch’s thickness, making this case less than ideal for size-obsessed users.
Both cases offer at least a good level of protection, but the iPod touch Jam Jacket does better, including a full screen protector while the nano version does not; thankfully, DLO integrated Click Wheel protection into its face. Both cases leave the bottoms of the iPods completely open for easy accessory connection, but otherwise cover all of the iPods’ scratchable backs and sides, plus most of their faces. The iPod touch version unnecessarily has a hole at the top for the Sleep/Wake button, and more usefully has one on front for the brightness sensor.
The only other gotcha in these cases is the extent to which their black rubber skins attract dust and hair. Like many other black cases we’ve seen, they attract more than their fair share of white and gray particles; additional color options, perhaps including clear versions, would help a lot.
Overall, Jam Jacket Multiclip for iPod touch is on the edge of our B+ and A- ratings, but ultimately scores a high recommendation based on the excellent value it offers for the a $20 asking price. By iPod touch standards, Multiclip’s pricing is very reasonable, while its design is inoffensive, functional, and protective. The Jam Jacket Design for iPod nano strikes us as a comparative miss, with its price and protectiveness standing out less from the iPod nano case pack, and its only novel feature not living up to the moderate expectations its description might arouse. If you’re a big fan of currency-styled art, you might want to check it out, but you’ll get more iPod coverage and superior eagle art from just wrapping your nano in a $20 bill.