Review: iSkin eXo2 Case
Pros: Great fit; wonderful new screen protector; beveled cutouts to buttons; dock protector; new larger ‘Hold’ switch cutout; belt clip very securely attached to silicone; flat back w/o belt clip.
Cons: Anti-static coating effectiveness questionable; belt clip can slide vertically off the belt with little effort.
It is no secret that we iPod owners not only appreciate the ease-of-use of our tiny white music players; we love the way it looks. This is the reason for the overwhelming success of the great-looking iSkin and iSkin eXo cases, selling quantities in the tens of thousands since their introduction. On November 20th, iSkin.com announced their design of the second-generation iSkin eXo, the iSkin eXo2. In short, I am quite impressed.
The eXo2 has a refined look and a great fit. New in this second generation is a slightly raised ‘ridge’of silicone around the scroll wheel on the front of the iPod. Not only does it look good, it makes the iSkin a little easier to hold. Also, while it is difficult to scientifically measure, it seems that the eXo2 has an even more precise fit than the original—particularly around the screen.
Maybe the only thing more impressive than the eXo2‘s long list of new features is that they are all items that we—the users—asked for. iSkin has truly listened to its user base. Let’s run through the new iSkin eXo2‘s new features one-by-one.
Wow. Anyone who has used the original iSkin eXo knows how annoying the screen protector can be. It slides around occasionally, is difficult to align at first, and you can never seem to totally get rid of those pesky ‘wet marks,‘where the screen protector sticks to the screen like a suction cup.
The iSkin eXo2‘s screen protector is totally redesigned, and all for the better. Instead of being a concave piece of soft plastic, touching the iPod all around its perimeter (as did the old model), the eXo2‘s new screen protector is a completely flat piece of hard, clear plastic, and is raised above the iPod by four round ‘nubs’ on its corners. The result? There are absolutely no ‘wet marks’...ever. In addition, the new screen protector is mated to the iSkin itself much better this time around… I have never had trouble aligning the screen protector, nor does it move around periodically as does my original eXo’s iShade.
While it is unfortunate that iSkin felt the need to brand the screen protector with their company name, they have chosen an unobtrusive location to do so… The logo is small, and only blocks the Play/Pause and Hold indicators.
While the new clip is not perfect, it comes much closer than the clip on the original eXo. With any belt clip, there are two basic questions I ask before I trust it. First, “how well does this clip fasten to the case?“and second, “how well does the clip fasten to my belt?” Simply put, the original exo failed miserably in both regards. The new REVOClip of the iSkin eXo2 unquestionably resolves the former, while remains slightly lacking in the latter.
The eXo2‘s clip is a rather clever design. First, insert a round stainless steel disc (with a scratch-resistant pad on the back) into the iSkin, choosing your orientation to be either horizontal or vertical. Poke the 3 posts through the applicable holes. Next, slide the clip onto these three posts, and lock it in place. This locking mechanism is very secure. In short, this clip is not coming off the case.
The clip, however, is not as incredible at staying on my belt. While most clips have a sturdy hook on the underside of the clip to prevent the clip from sliding upwards on the belt, the REVOClip has a small and ineffective curl of metal, too small to prevent upward movement. That being said, I had no real problems in the 3 days I have been using the eXo2 on my belt. I may take a pair of pliers and bend myself a more significant ‘catch,‘just to increase my confidence. It takes only one mistake to destroy a $400 piece of equipment.
It may be of some interest to many readers that, when both pieces of the belt clip assembly are removed, the iSkin eXo2 has a flat back.
While I had no problems myself, several iLounge users have reported problems with a metal post ‘popping off’of the metal disc. iSkin.com has officially acknowledged the problem, and are addressing it in manufacturing. This is another example of their dedication to making a good product and keeping customers happy.
As impressed as I am with the eXo2, I’m tempted to brand this “feature"a marketing gimmick. I see very little improvement at dust and hair resistance over the original iSkin eXo.
Ports & Buttons
The eXo2 includes an integrated silicone cover for the iPod’s dock connector. This is a nice feature, preventing dust from reaching the contact points.
The eXo2‘s buttons are ever-so-slightly beveled to allow easier use of your finger pads. With the original eXo, most iPod users were forced to use their finger tips, and commonly complained about button access. I have found no usability problems whatsoever with the new button holes.
I’m most excited about the new, larger opening for the ‘Hold’ switch. While I had never really been extremely annoyed at digging my fingernail into the silicone on the original eXo, I was surprised and delighted at how easy access to the ‘Hold’ switch was on the eXo2.
The included hand strap is a nice bonus. Looped around a belt, it can double as a failsafe should the belt clip slide up and off the belt. To attach the hand strap, clip it to the hole on the belt clip.
The included clear PVC case is an acceptable slip case for either the eXo2 or several iPod accessories. The PVC is not as soft as the TPU case included in packages from other companies, but serves its purpose nonetheless.
Essentially, I am very impressed with iSkin’s version of the second-generation eXo. I have the utmost admiration for a company that truly listens to their customers suggestions, and implement them well. iSkin is no exception. After I modify my belt clip slightly, I will have no problem using this case quite often.
Many users may be dismayed at iSkin’s relative lack of color availability. Don’t worry - email correspondence with iSkin.com offers us hope for the future.
“We are going to be making many more colors; however, unlike our past efforts, we will be releasing new colors and FX versions (such as GLOs) in stages. Expect a lot more from us in the coming year.”