Company: Griffin Technology
Compatible: iPod 5G
Griffin iClear Polycarbonate Case for iPod 5G
Pros: An inexpensive hard plastic case comprised of a clear front shell and a frosted iPod-specific back shell; Simple but effective design allows full access to iPod’s control areas, and allows connection of certain bottom-mounting accessories.
Cons: Clear, hard plastic likely to accumulate scratches; Click Wheel and iPod’s bottom exposed full time; No included belt clip or other carrying accessories.
This clear hard plastic case for fifth-generation iPods includes a universally compatible transparent front shell and two interchangeable frosted rear shells, one for 30GB iPods and one for 60GB iPods. There’s not a whole lot to say about this simple implementation of a simple, popular design, but there’s not a whole lot to complain about either: the Griffin iClear is a good, inexpensive clear hard case.
With its simple design, construction, and material choice, the iClear scores well in the Build Quality category. All of its holes line up properly with the iPod controls underneath, the two halves of the case are cleanly molded, and they mate tightly together.
The only loss in this category is common to nearly all clear hard cases: scratching. The iClear’s back surface is frosted, which is effective in preventing scratches from showing up, but the case’s front shell is completely transparent, surely accumulating unsightly scratches over time.
The iClear scores high in the Ease of Use category, as each of the iPod’s key areas are fully accessible. The hole in the case for the Hold switch is large enough so that even users with large fingers can easily toggle the switch, and - thankfully - the hole for the headphone plug is large enough to accept many of our larger third-party headphones.
The bottom of the iClear is almost entirely uncovered, enabling most bottom-mounting iPod accessories to connect without removing the case. Additionally, Griffin chose to design the bottom opening such that it lies flush with the iPod’s bottom surface. This further helps with accessory compatibility, and even allows the iClear to work with an Apple Universal Dock without an adapter.
Without colors to choose from, a belt clip or other carrying options, and with its lack of new design ideas, there’s really little to award Griffin for in this category. Even without points rewarded for pack-ins or innovation, however, the iClear scores well with its strength in other categories.
The iClear scores only modestly in the protection category, primarily due to its concentration on ease of use. The headphone port, Click Wheel, Hold switch, and the iPod’s entire bottom surface are left exposed. However, the iClear does cover the iPod where it’s most important: the iPod’s screen, corners, and front and back faces are all covered full time.
Additionally, we award an extra two points in this category for all cases with hard shells, for the impact and crush protection they provide.
At $20, the iClear is a very reasonable buy for a full-size iPod case. Sure, the design isn’t terribly interesting, but it’s mostly effective, especially if you don’t carry the case in a pocket or purse along with keys or other potentially damaging objects. If you’re looking for rigid protection for your iPod that won’t significantly impact how you interact with it, there’s little reason for us to discourage you from purchasing the iClear - especially since you’re likely to find it sans shipping fees in local retailers.
A Note From the Editors of iLounge: Though all products and services reviewed by iLounge are "final," many companies now make changes to their offerings after publication of our reviews, which may or may not be reflected above. This iLounge article provides more information on this practice, known as revving.