Company: Matias Corporation
Price: $49.95, $54.95
Compatible: iPod 1G, 2G
Matias iPod Armor
Pros: A very well-made product that offers outstanding protection for your iPod.
Cons: Extremely inconvenient to open the face or remove the iPod, making it not suitable for people who change their playlists often.
Armor? For my iPod?
The iPod Armor by Matias Corporation is a beautifully designed protective case for the iPod. It fits all models of iPod and offers quite possibly the best protection against physical trauma on the market.
The best way to describe this product is that it is not an iPod case. It isn’t a hard case. It is armor. Think of it as a full suit of plate mail - your iPod is completely encased in a hard, resilient metal exoskeleton.
Also, key in evaluating the iPod Armor is the difficulty involved when opening and closing the unit, also the difficulty involved when removing the iPod from the Armor. This product is for when protection is more important than accessibility - you just can’t pop the iPod in and out of this armor, nor is it all that easy to open and close the lid. So, iPod Armor is best when used with the iPod’s wired remote control.
You can tell that this product was designed with meticulous attention to the dimensions of the iPod - there are small grooves in the plastic at the top (on the inside of the unit, not on the outside), through which the small ridge on the hold switch and firewire port cover fit through precisely. Also, the smooth plastic spacer at the bottom (again, on the inside of the unit) which keeps the iPod from touching the rough aluminum is of just the right width. The iPod fits so perfectly, so snugly inside this Armor… it’s just incredible. Kudos to Matias Corp. for the outstanding specifications which have been translated perfectly from the drawing board to the assembly line.
While walking at a moderate stride down the street one day and listening to my iPod, I tossed it onto the ground. It flew for about 6 feet before hitting the sidewalk and bouncing a few times. When I picked it up, I noticed several dings in the exterior of the armor. The iPod inside was just fine - still playing music and not a single scratch. I was reluctant to put my precious iPod through many more tests, but I let it go down a flight of metal stairs and let it free fall from about 7 feet.
During these tests the iPod Armor never popped open, keeping my iPod safe and secure inside.
Matias has embossed a clever “fake-screen-and-wheel” pattern onto the face of the iPod Armor. Some would say that it’s useless, but I believe that it makes the iPod Armor look quite sharp - it identifies that grey lump of metal as an iPod; rather than some aluminum paperweight. The textured aluminum exterior feels good to the touch and gives a very appealing look.
An extra unexpected bonus is the two little plastic feet on the bottom of the unit, which allows the iPod Armor to stand vertically.
Lightweight and Low-Profile
The iPod Armor alone is 2.3 oz; with a 20GB iPod, it weighs 9.6 oz.
It is incredibly thin, adding very little to the external dimensions -when on the go, the whole unit doesn’t feel too cumbersome, heavy or “brick-like” - it is still compact, lightweight, and comfortable.
Hard to access iPod
I can’t say it enough: It is difficult to open the face of the iPod Armor. With a new one, quite a bit of finger strength is required. I am a habitual “music-changer” - always opening the case up to change the currently playing album or playlist. The iPod Armor made that task very annoying, time-consuming and inconvenient.
Matias Corporation is aware of how difficult the case is to open, and responded in an email to iLounge stating, “The cases tend to wear over time, so we made the hinge mechanism extra tight. After a week or 2 of use, opening and closing is much easier.”
Hard to remove iPod
The iPod is (very snugly) surrounded by non-conductive foam or plastic. When the front is open, the only part of the iPod that is exposed is the white Lucite face… the chrome back is still completely covered by foam and plastic.
Apple says to remove the iPod from a case when it is plugged in; the iPod fits in this iPod Armor VERY snugly and is quite difficult to remove from the case. If there were a more intense word for “snug,” I’d use it here.
The Matias website alludes to the fact that the iPod Armor acts as a heatsink. I’m not a thermal dynamics expert, but as far as I can tell, the iPod Armor is NOT a heatsink. I asked a representative at Matias Corporation about leaving the iPod in the case while charging and she replied, “We found that heat was not a problem when charging the iPod in our iPod Armor case. Our case actually did a better job of dissipating the heat than just leaving your iPod lying flat on a table. We consider this to be a major benefit of our case. This is much more convenient than taking your iPod out of its case every time you want to charge it, which is not the case with other cases.”
The iPod Armor is the ultimate in protection against physical trauma for your iPod. It is not a “commuter” case or a “day-to-day” case, nor is it a case designed for constant, easy access to the front controls. It is armor, best used when you know you’re going into a hostile environment. Load up a long playlist, plug in your remote, and rest assured that even if you fall off your mountain bike and tumble down a rocky hill, your iPod will be safe.