Company: Griffin Technology
Compatible: iPod shuffle
Griffin SiliSkins for iPod shuffle
Pros: Simple but well-made silicone rubber cases for the iPod shuffle, sold in a three-pack of colors and including standard USB cap covers. Substantially protective and less likely to tear than some comparably-priced alternatives.
Cons: Not a standout offering on color, features, protectiveness, or pricing; a compromise product that other iPod shuffle cases do better than in individual ways.
Is Griffin Technology really going low-tech? In a fairly significant departure for the generally innovative company, this week saw the release of SiliSkins ($19.99/three-pack), a collection of “hey, aren’t those familiar?” silicone covers for the iPod shuffle. Differing from existing offerings only in two important ways, the SiliSkins aren’t real lookers, but they’re largely protective of an iPod shuffle that isn’t being worn with its lanyard cap.
The SiliSkins package includes three separate cases - one frosted white, one frosted light blue, and one frosted light pink. They’re made from a better grade of silicone rubber than the cheaper cases we’ve seen from Pacific Rim, Pods Plus and others, and thicker, too, so they won’t rip. We’d call the SiliSkins roughly equivalent in quality to the good surgical-grade rubber found in the Silicone Jackets from Power Support. Unlike those Jackets, though, they’re not selling for $22 a pop - a major plus.
As case designs go, this one is relatively simple, but competant; for a first-time case maker, there aren’t many mistakes. Despite their added thickness, we had no problems using the SiliSkins with oversized headphone plugs, though the hole at the top of each case isn’t huge. All of the sides are essentially flat, and despite what the photos might suggest, the front controls don’t stick out or use tactile icons. They’re not hard in any way to use, and quite well protected underneath the silicone.
The SiliSkins’ minuses are fairly obvious: you’re out of luck if you want to use them with a lanyard cap cover or a belt clip, both of which Power Support includes with every purchase. And there’s no protection for the shuffle’s power switch or battery light indicator, which are exposed and easy to access. Power Support’s patent-pending Power Ring on its Silicone Jackets makes it equally easy to access these controls while they’re protected, a design benefit that no one else has yet been able to fully match.
There’s nothing wrong with Griffin’s strategy and justification for its design choices: the SiliSkins are individually inexpensive and they work. While not the most protective or feature-laden silicone cases we’ve seen (Power Support’s), the boldest in colors (XtremeMac’s), or even the cheapest (Pacific Rim’s, now selling for $8 individually or $15 together), they’re a good compromise for people who aren’t looking for a single strength at a high cost. If you’re not a lanyard wearer, and don’t mind an exposed rear switch, we have no hesitation in recommending these for the price.