Review: Griffin Reflect for iPod classic and nano (video)
Along with Artwizz's MirrorFilm, a fully reflective film screen protector for iPhones, we're looking today at mirror-adding options for iPods. At the time of this review, though past iPods have been very well served by Power Support's Illusion cases, there are only two such options for current-generation iPods: Griffin's new Reflect cases for the iPod classic and third-generation iPod nano ($25 each).
The idea behind Reflect is simple: transform as much of each iPod’s face into a mirrored surface as possible, while coating much of its body with a hard plastic shell. Unlike the prior Reflect for iPod touch, which added mirrors only to the edges of that iPod’s screen, Griffin here covers every bit of the iPod nano and classic faces with a reflective plastic shell, except for their Click Wheels, which are entirely exposed. Reflect for iPod nano comes in three versions—silver, pink, or blue—and the iPod classic version comes only in silver, but includes separate rear shells for the 80GB and 160GB iPod classic models. The silver shells have black plastic backs, while the blue and pink ones have blue and pink backs, respectively; these backs are frosted translucent and not mirrored.
On a highly positive note, the Reflect cases look gorgeous. Like SwitchEasy’s earlier Black Biscuit, Griffin’s silver and black versions of Reflect take already nice Apple designs and make them look even better; the company’s choice of chrome material is nothing short of spot-on. By comparison, the blue and pink versions are slightly iridescent, reflecting a little rainbow-like green or red when held on different angles, and they’re nearly as cool as the standard silver versions.
We also really liked the cases’ back shells. Rather than just including a boring plastic rear casing, or taking the Power Support-style approach of using a mirrored rear shell, Griffin has gone in a different direction, picking a lightly rubberized texture for each of its back pieces. Though you’ll have to decide for yourself whether the addition of a reflective face and removal of each iPod’s reflective rear squares with your definition of what a mirrored case should accomplish, they unquestionably feel nicer in your hand than slick surfaces do, as well as the non-rubberized plastic shells included with its iClear cases, and are among the best we’ve felt in iPod cases overall; Griffin has come a long way in making good case material and design choices over the past year.
Both cases are fine, not spectacular, in their approach to iPod coverage. Each one exposes the entire bottom of the iPod in order to guarantee full compatibility with Universal iPod Dock accessories, and succeeds; the price of such exposure is that the iPod classic’s bottom sides are unnecessarily exposed at all other times when it’s not in a dock. So too are its Hold switch and top-mounted headphone port, the latter cut perfectly to fit any size of headphone plug you may have. By comparison, the nano version’s top is fully covered, and its open bottom makes sense given that all of the nano’s necessary contact points, save for its Click Wheel, are down there. Neither case includes film to cover the Click Wheel, an unfortunate omission, and one we wouldn’t expect Power Support will miss when its Illusion cases inevitably appear for these iPod models.
If there’s anything wrong with the Reflect cases, it’s the opacity of the mirrored surfaces—a compromise inherent in mirrored film and case designs, but better handled in some films and cases than in others. Griffin’s cases look spectacular when your iPod’s screen is off, and yes, you can see the screen when it’s turned on, but you’ll need to amp up your iPod’s brightness level to 100% to see the screen look like its 50% un-Reflected level. For people who use their iPods primarily for audio, this isn’t a problem, but frequent video viewers will find the cases too dim unless they’re willing to run down the iPod’s battery faster with brighter screen settings. We found the screen dimming effect stronger here than in Artwizz’s MirrorFilm, suggesting that there are ways to provide a similar reflective effect without as much negative consequence.
Overall, the Reflect cases for iPod nano and iPod classic are good but not great cases. We prefer the nano version’s approach to coverage, but think that its $25 asking price is a bit too steep for such a tiny, simple case; the iPod classic version’s more model-appropriate pricing is offset by its less comprehensive coverage and fewer color options. Neither case includes a belt clip, video viewing stand, or other extra to increase its value, either; the sole selling point is the appeal of the mirrored face. With the screen dimming factor taken into account, both cases are on the edge of B+ and flat B ratings, but because of their great looks and nice rear shells, we think they’re going to satisfy the majority of people who are interested in adding mirrors to the faces of their iPods, so long as they’re willing to accept a few small issues in the process.