Company: Digital Lifestyle Outfitters (DLO)
Compatible: iPod touch 2G
DLO SoftShell for iPod touch 2G
What would happen if DLO slightly customized BTA Workshop's Illusion Cases for the second-generation iPod touch, added screen protection, and sold them at a more reasonable price? The answer is SoftShell ($20), a highly recommendable new case that takes one of the best cases from BTA's lineup and makes it better.
When the Illusion Cases were introduced back in July, it was obvious that they had hit potential in the right hands, but were being handled somewhat less than impressively by their original developer. Described as hydrocarbon cases, most of the Illusion Cases we received were made from a soft, jelly-like rubber material, each formed with internally etched gem-like patterns. There were a couple of cases in the bunch made from a smoother, less rubbery plastic that we really liked—they had all the good looks, with little of their brothers’ stickiness. One was clear, and one was smokey translucent. They rated the highest of the bunch.
SoftShell is the smokey translucent version, refined. Resized for the iPod touch, it covers the device’s front bezel, top, sides, and bottom corners. It has no holes on its sides, top, or back; instead, it covers all of the iPod touch’s Sleep/Wake and volume controls. A clear piece of protective screen film is included to cover the device’s entire face, save for its Home button. That part and the bottom are the only exposed components of the iPod touch, enabling the device to physically connect to Universal Docks and any other accessory you might have, but also inviting the standard complement of dust or other intrusion in your pocket.
Simply put, DLO was extremely smart to jump on the hydrocarbon bandwagon in the manner it has; not only does the case look great from the back thanks to its use of a repeating diamond pattern, the best of the BTA options, but DLO has added a sharp-looking circular badge that overlaps the device’s capacity marking. It’s the rare piece of branding that looks as good as Apple’s official markings, and doesn’t take away visually from the case design.
Is anything wrong with this case? Putting the open bottom aside, there’s only one small issue—the coloration. DLO’s packaging and web site alternate between images of a completely clear version of SoftShell and the translucent black one we received. We’re partial to the clear one, but thus far it looks like DLO is only offering the other version, using images of an unbadged version solely for promotion. Our hope is that the company produces both.
Whatever small omissions SoftShell may have are forgivable because of its $20 price tag, which is very reasonable by iPod touch standards for a case with virtually complete body protection and great looks. As our high recommendation indicates, this is the sort of case we’d pick for our own iPod touch units; if you aren’t looking for a belt clip or video stand, it should be amongst your very top options.