Review: Marware Sport Grip Extreme for iPod touch 2G
Silicone rubber cases were all but commoditized years ago, and it has become harder for new versions to stand out from the pack. Today, we're reviewing nine different rubber cases for three different Apple devices: the fourth-generation iPod nano, second-generation iPod touch, and iPhone 3G. This comparative review looks at DLO's Jam Jacket Rugged ($20) and Jam Jacket with MultiClip ($20), Marware's Sport Grip Extreme ($25), and PDO's TopSkin ($20) for the second-generation iPod touch.
As with the iPod nano rubber cases we’ve tested, all four of these cases have a lot in common. They all cover the touch’s sides, top, and back completely, with at least partial front coverage, and varying degrees of bottom coverage. They’re also all sold in opaque black, though some also come in additional colors.
Though they’re only made in black, the most distinctively shaped cases are DLO’s. While the Jam Jacket Rugged case continues the look of the nano version, possessing the same seven side ribs to make the case grippy, they’ve been enlarged, and have wider depressions to match the larger iPod touch body. By comparison, the MultiClip version has none of these grips, but features a prominent and unique rubber-coated rear clip that can serve as a stand, cord manager, or belt clip depending on how it’s flexed and rotated. It’s the sequel to an earlier, same-named product for the first iPod touch. Both cases come with clear film screen protectors; only the Rugged version leaves the touch’s Home button exposed. They differ in bottom openings, with MultiClip offering an almost completely open, fully accessory-compatible bottom, and Rugged opting for a more protective approach that only barely exposes touch’s bottom holes. Those using oversized headphone or Dock Connector plugs will find Rugged’s bottom a little too hard to make connections with; this case is also, unlike MultiClip, impossible to use with Universal Docks.
By comparison, Sport Grip Extreme and TopSkin are more conventional, physically, but they do have their charms—notably, in coloration. Marware’s design, like earlier Belkin Sonic Wave Silicone Sleeves, uses two different rubber colors in a wavy back pattern—red accents on the black case, gray accents on the white case—with an extremely subtle added microdot texture on the accent colors. The only detractor from its looks is a headphone port hole that was a little ragged in our samples. TopSkin uses more noticeable microdots to edge all four of its sides, running the dots onto the edges of the case’s front and back; it comes in four single-colored versions, each with a plain wriststrap. Both of these cases come with screen protectors and integrated Home button protection, while Extreme includes a cleaning cloth, as well. Neither includes a belt clip, differing from the prior iPod touch version of TopSkin. This omission may be a disappointment for some, but didn’t bother us; it slims the case and improves its back.
New and interesting in Sport Grip Extreme is its approach to bottom coverage. Due to the V-shaped cutout, the headphone port is always exposed, but the Dock Connector port is covered by a slit that opens to reveal the port when necessary. We were able to dock Extreme in a Universal Dock without much effort; the slit just opened when aligned with the Dock’s Connector. TopSkin by comparison uses flip-open port covers for both the Dock Connector and headphone port, making it the only case of the bunch to provide 100% protection for the iPod touch’s body. It takes a little extra effort to open the covers for use with accessories, but not enough to bother most users, and the case works with virtually anything you might want to connect.
While all four of these cases deserve commendation for protecting so much of the iPod touch—they’re literally amongst the most protective we’ve ever reviewed for an iPod model—you’ll need to decide for yourself whether the features justify the asking prices. In our view, PDO’s TopSkin is the strongest offering of this bunch, with highly impressive protection and a design that’s only a wee bit too generic for our tastes, while DLO’s Jam Jacket with MultiClip offers solid protection and the most versatile clipping and stand functionality for a reasonable price. Marware’s Sport Grip Extreme strikes us as a little too expensive given what it offers for the price, but questionably scores high on protection, while Jam Jacket Rugged is the weakest link due to its bottom port hole design, yet still a good option. As with the iPod nano versions of these cases, it’s hard to go wrong with any of these picks, but our highly recommended options are the easiest to love for their prices.