Review: Metallo Design Gilty Couture Accoutrements for iPod shuffle, nano, classic & touch
Though there are technically thousands of iPod cases now available, it's all but impossible to find something that hasn't been done before. So on originality alone, the Gilty Couture Accoutrements from Metallo Design ($55-175) deserve some attention: these blinged-out metal shells are the latest idea from the folks behind the affordable Core Cases series of aluminum iPod cases, and designed to appeal to iPod owners with bigger pocketbooks.
Whether you like what Metallo has come up with will likely depend substantially on whether you think the “bling” word and concept are a passing fad or here to stay. The Gilty Couture cases are hard metal shells coated with either silver or 14-Karat gold, then optionally adorned with either clear or pink Swarovski crystals. Typically, the least expensive version of a given case is silver and without crystals, with gold adding a $15-20 premium, clear crystals adding up to $45, and pink crystals adding up to $50. For the iPod shuffle, prices range from $55 to $75; the nano, from $85 to $130; the classic, $115 to $175; and iPod touch, $110 to $130.
Other than their sizes and shapes, the major differences between these cases are in their scope of iPod coverage. The iPod shuffle and iPod touch versions include front shells only, which offer very limited protection for these models’ sides, tops, and bottoms. By comparison, the iPod nano and classic cases come with both front and back shells, which offer double the protection and twice the shiny metal. Unfortunately, none of the cases includes screen, control, or port protection—one of a couple of reasons they missed our high recommendation levels—but all save the shuffle version work perfectly in Apple’s docks and Universal Docks, and have no problems with bottom-mounting accessories.
There’s little doubt that Metallo got most of the basics right with all of the Gilty cases. They feel substantial, dress up each iPod in enough gold and crystals to cameo in a Lil’ Jon video, and look good enough even up close to pass our “does this expensive case seem worthy of the price” test. Padding in all the right places keeps the shells from scratching iPods, and as with past Core Cases designs we’ve seen, the build quality is basically unimpeachable. Each case comes in a nice luxury gift box with a cloth protective bag, capable of keeping your shiny new shell scratch-free, though it’s worth noting that we didn’t put any big scratches into our test cases during normal testing outside of these bags, either.
Our concerns about the Gilty Couture cases are simple, and you’ll either accept or reject the cases on these grounds alone. First, their looks are polarizing and clearly aren’t for everyone—another reason that the best of the cases receives our B+ rating. Our style-conscious female editor wasn’t won over by the blingy look, regardless of the color of the crystals or the metal, but many people will feel otherwise. Second, their protection isn’t up to top iPod case standards, and vary enough that the shuffle and touch versions hardly seem like full cases; they’re merely front facades by comparison with the iPod classic and nano versions. The comparative lack of protection relative to other iPod cases brought the iPod shuffle and touch versions down a lot in our ratings. Third is their pricing, which we could get into at greater length, but will leave at this: is the Swarovski name and a little precious metal really worth up to $175?
In our view, at least for the iPod nano and classic versions, the answer is “yes.” Having seen many do-it-yourself or mail-in crystal add-ons and less expensive metal cases for iPods over the past several years, what Metallo is offering with the Gilty Couture cases makes a lot more sense to us. It gives people the chance to add gold, silver, or Swarovski crystal coverage to any current iPod without sending it away for enhancement or using glue and paint at home. At this point, the prices are a little high, but not crazy for what’s being offered, and if we were buying these ourselves, we’d be concerned only by the limited extent to which all versions—particularly the shuffle and touch shells—cover their respective iPod models, and the limited assortment of looks. Metallo has a great concept on its hands; additional designs and protection will only make the Gilty line better.