Model: ifrogz wrapz
Price: $31 (intro. $24)
Compatible: iPod 5G, nano
ifrogz wrapz Customizable Cases for iPod 5G and nano
Pros: A highly customizable silicone rubber case, permitting you to add your choice of accent bands and Click Wheel cover graphics, each case including either a detachable belt clip (5G) or lanyard (nano). Additional bands and Click Wheel covers are sold separately.
Cons: Total standard cost of case, band, and Click Wheel decal package isn’t aggressive by comparison with simpler silicone rubber cases; design of case is better suited to younger users.
We wouldn’t blame you if the words “silicone case” were enough to put you to sleep these days, as there are dozens of similar rubber iPod holders now in the marketplace. Thankfully, a new iPod accessory maker called ifrogz - part of the larger company Reminderband - has taken a unique approach to silicone rubber case design, creating a three-piece system for nearly comprehensive, highly customizable iPod protection. The cases, called wrapz, sell for $21 each, and are available in 20 different colors. Each 5G case comes with a black plastic belt clip and two metal screw-style attachment nubs; the iPod nano version omits these items, and substitutes a lanyard necklace, which we didn’t receive for review. You then add a rubberband like accent stripe called a band - bandz are sold in 21 colors - for $4 more, and a combination of clear iPod face protection and Click Wheel sticker called a screen for an extra $6. There are at least 224 different screen decals, spanning pop, sports, colors, nature, girly, culture, and artistic categories.
A complete set with wrap, band, and screen items is sold for $31 - assembled via a Flash interface “how it looks” preview feature on the company’s web site - and at the time of writing is available for an introductory price of $24. Given ifrogz’ decision to sell these cases in individual pieces or as a set, we’ve opted to rate them as a set at their standard price, on the presumption that most readers will want one complete set, with the ability to purchase additional items to mix and match parts.
As with most of the professionally mass-produced cases we test these days, these score very highly on fit, finish and resilience - here, that’s saying something because of how many pieces ifrogz gives you to integrate. The bandz fit into grooves on the top, bottom, and sides of the wrapz, and the adhesive (but not gummy) screenz fit underneath the wrapz, providing an appropriate level of screen and Click Wheel coverage. All of the parts work together well, and fit their respective iPods properly. They’re also fairly scratch resistant by the standards of most cases we’ve tested.
ifrogz’ design quite nearly scored our top rating on Ease of Use - the company allows you to access all five of the iPod’s key components (screen, Click Wheel, Hold switch, headphone port and Dock Connector port) from holes in the rubber, and though the headphone port hole is very small, the rubber gives way to accommodate even oversized headphone plugs. The bottom Dock Connector hole is also very small - not quite as friendly for big accessories, but not impossible for most others to access.
Our only detractor here is an unusual one - the detachable bandz do something unusual and generally smart, wrapping around the iPods’ perimeters and covering their Hold switches and Dock Connector ports unless removed. This is a pretty great idea, in our view, though like the wrapz, they also have very small headphone port holes - so small that oversized headphones (read: anything bigger than Apple’s) won’t work with the bandz in place. Since you have the option to pull the bandz back, we won’t detract much here, but depending on the headphones you’re using, this may be more of a concern to you.
Purchased as a $31 set, each ifrogz kit scores four points for innovation: the company’s wide variety of color options rates two points, while its mix-and-match colored bandz and graphical screenz each merit two. These are amongst the most user-customizable silicone cases we’ve ever seen, and though we think they’ll largely appeal to younger audiences, there’s no doubt that they have much more to offer than the generic rubber designs we most commonly receive for testing. In an interesting design twist, each case has two lines of elevated bumps on its back, plus a green and white frog logo at its rear bottom, both of which look good; their fronts have extruded facets that we weren’t as enamored with.
As previously mentioned, each of the wrapz comes with one extra item - a belt clip with nubs for the 5G version, or a lanyard necklace for the nano version - that merits a fifth point here, and the company also includes both a soft cloth and a plastic card to help you prepare the clear iPod face protector for flat, bubble-free installation on your iPod’s face, scoring a sixth point. While these various components aren’t ideal by comparison with the best ones we’ve seen in other products, they each do their job in an adequate to good way, and are certainly better for the price than not having any of them at all.
In protectiveness, ifrogz again rates nearly a perfect score - because of the complete protection afforded by the company’s three parts working in tandem, no part of your iPod can be easily damaged when all of the pieces have been properly installed and your headphones are plugged in. The only case that could have scored better here is a hard, water-proof shell; this comes very, very close to that level of protection.
At its standard price of $31, it’s our feeling that the ifrogz package represents a fair value overall - you get an impressive amount of customization in color and Click Wheel graphics, made relatively easy to order from the company’s web site, and the parts all work together well. Though the colors we received for testing didn’t blow us away - they could have been more vivid, especially in blues and fluorescents - and the faceted front design of each case looked better or at least less conspicuous with some cases (such as the translucent pink) than with others (opaque powder blue), the fact that users can so thoroughly change their appearance will appeal to many people.
Especially at the $24 introductory price, but even at the standard price, we’d highly recommend the wrapz kit to any iPod owner looking for a fun and unique twist on the boring old silicone rubber case theme. Other than the very best designs we’ve seen for earlier iPods - namely iSkin’s Duo for iPod nano (iLounge rating: A) - we’d be hard-pressed to suggest a more protective and customizable soft case available today.
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.