Company: Other World Computing
Model: Pod Protector
Price: $27.95 (w/o belt clip), $29.95 (w/ belt clip)
Compatible: iPod 1G, 2G
OWC Pod Protector
Pros: Easy access to the jog wheel. The iPod can be charged or sync with your mac without taking it out of the case. Cheaper than similar leather cases.
Cons: The stitches inside the case cause scratches on the iPod. It offers little protection from drops or collisions.
The Other World Computing (OWC) Pod Protector is one of the first commercially available cases designed specifically for Apple’s iPod. For all intents and purposes, the Pod Protector is identical to the Deluxe iPod Sleeve from JR Hill: a thin leather case with a round opening to access the jog wheel and a plastic window that protects the screen. At $27.95 however, the case costs more than $10 less than JR Hill’s model.
I had spent the last month carrying my iPod around in a small cloth bag filled with soft computer cleaning cloths, so my standards for the case were fairly reasonable. I expected that it would protect my iPod from cosmetic damage (scratches, etc.), as well as damage to its internal components. The Pod Protector barely accomplishes these goals.
Because the case has rough stitches on the inside, the OWC Protector actually created several new blemishes on the front of my device. While the iPod is infamous for its susceptibility to scratches on its back, the front traditionally remains fairly new looking even after rigorous use. These scuffs could be removed only by using alcohol wipes and then polishing it repeatedly with a soft cloth.
Insofar as the Protector caused fairly substantial blemishes, my makeshift cloth bag (which at most cost a couple dollars to throw together) was much better in this regard.
I doubt that the OWC case could cause any damage to the iPod’s functionality. At the same time, I doubt that it could do much to prevent it either. Like many users, I carry my iPod in a backpack, so I need a case that provides enough protection so that being tossed in a corner now and then won’t cause substantial harm. Since the case is little more than a thin piece of leather, I doubt it can do even that.
Particularly troublesome is the circular opening above the scroll wheel. Though it makes using your iPod in the case a breeze, it leaves one of the device’s most fragile components completely unprotected.
The Pod Protector does have its good qualities, including the somewhat arbitrary characteristic that it is fairly attractive looking. The case fits snugly around the iPod, and the tight fit can make removing your iPod somewhat difficult. But leather does tend to stretch over time, so the snugness now is probably good in the long run. Additionally, the top snap cover has a small hole above the headphone jack, and the cover can be opened to allow access to the Firewire port without removing the device. As a result, the iPod is just as easy to use when it’s in the case as when it’s out.
While the Pod Protector does have its shortcomings, it offers the same benefits of comparable cases at a significantly lower price, and needless to say, using OWC’s case will offer substantially better protection than using no case at all. Users with active lifestyles, though, should look into neoprene cases, which typically offer better protection at even lower prices.