Review: Incase Pouch for iPod shuffle
Pros: Colorful iPod shuffle cases that are protective on almost all sides against both scratches and drops. Modern, simple design and price tags below $20. Multipurpose version includes good caribineer hook and fine lanyard.
Cons: Five-pack version lacks ability to work with lanyards, belt clips, or other attachments. No access to shuffe’s rear controls when inside either version; front controls accessed through a simple set of printed-on icons. Neoprene fabric will not appeal to some shuffle owners.
Just as iPods don’t get any simpler than the shuffle, cases don’t get much simpler than one of Incase’s two types of Pouch cases for the iPod shuffle ($19.95). The first version - called “Incase Pouch for iPod shuffle - 5-Pack” - is a collection of five colored neoprene sheathes that merely cover the body of a shuffle with its standard USB cap on. There are black, green, pink, blue, and red Pouches in the box, each with white front and rear printing save the pink version, which uses black print instead, and the blue version, with light blue print. Incase logos adorn the front and rear of each Pouch.
You slip the shuffle in through the top and use its front buttons through a iconic representation of its Control Pad; the rear switch is essentially unusable once inside. These design points render the case a bit less usable than the best silicone rubber cases we’ve seen, but because of the shuffle’s simplicity, not much. On the bright side, it’s fairly protective. While most of the shuffle’s top is exposed, it’s a few millimeters under the Pouch’s top surface, so you’re protected everywhere against accidental drops, and almost everywhere against scratches. That would be a more impressive feat if we hadn’t seen equivalent protection from cases that offered better access to the shuffle’s controls, as well as compatibility with Apple’s lanyard cap. But with the 5-Pack version of the shuffle pouch, you’re very limited: you can’t wear these Pouches or do anything else with them save drop them into a pocket or hold them in your hand.
The company’s other Pouch, called Multipurpose, is a substantially more useful design. Each box contains a single neoprene sheathe and three attachments - one non-detachable, the other two detachable. This single Pouch is black with green print, but is otherwise facially identical to the black 5-Pack Pouch.
On its rear, however, is a soft non-detachable plastic belt loop and a hard plastic clip system. If you want, you can attach a flat black fabric lanyard or a bright frosted metal O-ring caribineer. We found both easy to wear and well-made, generally even by comparison with other companies’ similar offerings. Leave both of them off and you can use the belt loop or easily pocket the case. It’s a simple system, but it works at least as well as some of the other clips we’ve seen - better because there’s also a case included for the $19.95 price.
Neoprene is far from our top pick for iPod cases, and inspired mixed opinions from our editors - some positive, some negative. We preferred the look and texture of DLO’s similar Action Jacket for iPod shuffle (iLounge rating: A-), but the Pouches are slightly different cases in overall appeal. The Action Jacket’s a well-designed, easy-to-belt-clip case that can also be worn for workouts with its included armband; the Multipurpose Pouch is a little less expensive and more convenient in some ways for different types of daily use, but also a little less classy and more simplistic. Because of its protectiveness and versatility, It’s a good case, and if you like the look of neoprene, you’ll enjoy toting it around wherever you go.
By comparison, we felt that the 5-Pack’s stripped-down functionality was simplistic to the level of near pointlessness. It’s basically just a way to protect your shuffle in a pocket or bag, but there are now so many cases that do the same thing better that these Pouches are hard to get excited over for any reason save per-Pouch pricing and overall protectiveness. If you’re looking for a simple iPod shuffle case and want to switch up the colors every day except weekends, the 5-Pack will do the trick. It’s not an option we’d recommend given our own tastes, but it’s not bad, either.