iSkin Claro Silicone/Clear Case Combination for iPod with video
Pros: Another original, largely protective design from iSkin, combining a scratch-proof hard plastic exterior shell with a silicone rubber interior case, and a pop-out video-ready mounting stand. Unique two-layer design provides good balance of access to and protection for iPod’s ports; internal rubber skin can be changed in color with optional Claro Slims.
Cons: Base price for case is high; optional Slims aren’t cheap either. Headphone port is incompatible with oversized headphone plugs. Interior silicone shell is easy to tear at corners.
The latest dual-layer case from Canada’s iSkin is Claro ($40), a clear, scratch-resistant hard plastic shell with a clear frosted silicone rubber inner layer. Made in separate sizes to fit 30GB and 60GB fifth-generation iPods, Claro comes with three pieces - the large rear shell, with a unique two-piece belt clip and iPod stand, the soft rubber iPod sleeve, and a front shell that slides into grooves on the rear shell’s sides. Together, the pieces tightly wrap your iPod inside, providing substantial front, rear, top, bottom, and side protection without compromising screen, control, or port access. The stand pops out of the belt clip to let you watch iPod videos on the go. Three-packs of Claro Slims - differently-colored rubber inserts - are available for an additional $20 with Claro purchase, $25 without.
Claro is impressive enough in exterior Build Quality that it pains us to have to deduct a single point from its overall score. Not only do all of its holes line up properly with the iPod - no surprise - and the finish is flawless, but the case is ultra resilient as well: it’s not just scratch-resistant, we’d call it scratch-proof. iSkin’s applied an anti-scratch coating to the outside of this case, and whatever it is, Apple needs to be using it on future iPods. After a few days of regular use, we tossed Claro into a backpack for several days of active travel, and it looked as good afterwards as it did at the start - great. Other than showing fingerprints that you can easily wipe off, it doesn’t tarnish.
The only issue we noticed here was one that we’ve seen on other thin silicone rubber products from iSkin - small rips were apparent on inspection at two hole corners on the inner silicone case, and though they’re invisible to the typical user and unlikely to widen through typical use, they’re there. It’s literally the only Build Quality flaw in an otherwise spectacular case.
Though iSkin has proved in the past that it can cover and provide access to the entirety of an iPod’s body, Claro continues the company’s recent trend of easing access through full-time holes: the 5G iPod’s headphone port, Hold switch, Dock Connector port, Click Wheel, and screen are all accessible while inside, with only one limitation: the headphone port hole is too small for oversized connectors. We’ll admit to being a bit mystified by this issue, as iSkin has been dealing with user comments on this topic for ages, and had no problem generously sizing the Hold switch or Dock Connector holes.
There’s no doubt that Claro is a novel iPod case design: we’ve seen metal and silicone rubber hybrids, but Claro’s combination of clear, scratch-resistant plastic and a silicone rubber inner shell is new, and augmented by the company’s unique rear belt clip/stand design. A large belt clip is permanently attached to the back of this case - something that will only bother the thinness-obsessed - and a video-ready stand is cut out from its center. If pushed together, the belt clip and stand both serve as a belt clip, but the stand can be pulled out to place the iPod on a nearly perfect recline, with “nearly” only applicable because it’s not user-adjustable. The recline worked with or without other accessories attached - we tried it with Belkin’s TuneTalk Stereo, for example - and kept the iPod in a good position for video watching. This is a highly convenient case for frequent video watchers.
Though it doesn’t directly affect our rating, it’s worth noting again that iSkin separately sells Claro Slims - three-packs (“Cruise” and “Chill”) of colored silicone rubber inserts that you can use to recolor the interior of the Claro case. While the Slims are a really smart idea here - a nice evolution of iSkin’s silicone-only designs - you’ll have to be willing to shell out quite a bit to take advantage of this option. It would have been great if iSkin included a few colors with every Claro purchase, or let users choose the Slim they wanted in the standard Claro package.
As with most of iSkin’s designs, Claro is a highly protective iPod case - it covers the 5G’s entire face, back, and sides, with holes only as previously noted at its top and bottom. Click Wheel coverage is provided by the thin inner shell, which also supplements coverage of the 5G’s bottom around its Dock Connector, and top around its Hold switch. Additionally, the case is so thick - and internally padded, thanks to the inner silicone case - that your iPod is unusually well-protected for a case of this type.
Our single biggest issue with Claro is its price: at $40, it’s more expensive than the majority of 5G iPod cases we’ve tested, including comparably impressive, popular offerings from companies such as Contour Design (Showcase video, $33, iLounge rating: A-). Put another way, iSkin is charging what some companies would ask for a separate fully protective hard case and a fully protective silicone rubber case, which makes Claro less than an aggressive deal for people seeking iPod protection. Because of the aggregate quality and originality of this design, we’re fairly certain that some people will be willing to pay the company’s desired premium, but in our view, $40’s just a bit too much for this package as-is. Had there been three Slims in the box, this might have seemed more reasonable, but as-is, we’re not ready to pay this sort of premium for an incompletely protective, headphone-incompatible offering. Claro is a good case, but in our view, further tweaks are necessary before it’s worthy of our high recommendation.
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.