Review: Pacific Rim Marketing iDiddy Case/Lanyard/Earbuds
Pros: Hybrid cases/lanyards/earbuds for various iPod models with access to each iPod’s controls, each case decently built.
Cons: Look and feel aren’t great, earbuds are only passable, tailoring is a bit off on each version. Pricey by iPod case standards without delivering a premium finished product.
Over the last two weeks, we’ve received two companies’ takes on the same concept: iPod holders that come with lanyards and integrated headphones. The first is Pacific Rim Marketing’s iDiddy, which ranges in price from $44.95 to $59.95 and is reviewed below; Mophie’s Song Sling at $39.95 is reviewed separately. As we weren’t enamored with the iDiddy designs, we’re going to quickly work through their positives and negatives with some photos, and let you decide if you feel differently.
The idea behind each of the three iDiddy cases is the same: mostly cover your iPod in leather, attach a hybrid necklace and earbud solution called the iLanyard, plug the iLanyard into your iPod’s headphone jack, and then walk around with iPod on your neck, listening to music. Pacific Rim Marketing - not to be confused with the other Pacific Rim companies making iPod accessories - touts iDiddy as “the hot designer way to wear your iPod.”
We can’t agree. Each of the iDiddy cases is made from what we’ll describe as low-grade leather - at least, it appears to be so by comparison with virtually every iPod leather case we’ve tested, if not in the absolute sense of the words. Three colors are offered for each model: “snow” (white), “onyx” (black) and “mocha” (brown). None of them did much for us. Pacific Rim’s white looks gray by comparison with the bright white plastics used in iPods, for instance, and the wrinkled, cheap-looking texture of the leather stands out in each of the cases. Stitching and construction are generally fine, except as noted below, and a matching colored suede interior on each case won’t scratch your iPod.
A thin, stronger-than-Saran Wrap but lighter-than-standard-PVC plastic covers the Click Wheels and screens of iPods and iPod minis, and the front Control Pad of the iPod shuffle. This material doesn’t feel great to the touch, but it provides superior sensitivity to the thick PVC used on some iPod cases. Two sets of black ear foam covers are included with each iDiddy case to cover the silver headphones.
We’ve seen a few different takes on the integrated headphone lanyard at this point, and while none of them has really impressed us, the one that comes with iDiddy is going to polarize people the most. It’s braided, and appears to have been made from leather (or a leather-like material) and plastic, instantly calling to mind old-school leather belts and moccasin shoes - not a style that’s generally thought of as iPod-complementary. At the top of iLanyard is a spring-loaded metal sizer that can reduce the amount by which iDiddy dangles when it’s worn, and left and right earbuds stick out of the lanyard’s sides at the 1/3 way point. Small plastic clips can hold the earbuds taut to the lanyard’s sides if you prefer, or the earbuds can hang loose for quick placement in your ears. Lobster claw clasps connect iLanyard to the iDiddy case, and an L-shaped headphone plug connects to the iPod’s headphone port.
The good part of iLanyard is that it generally works. You make sure that the left and right headphones are on the right sides of the case, attach the lobster claws and headphone plug, and you’re ready to go. Less positively, Pacific Rim’s earbuds and earbud clips are nothing special. They’re classicly inexpensive with a hard plastic feel and so-so sound quality, and are a bit lighter on bass response than Apple’s pack-ins - the most common complaint that people have with the free earbuds. Independent of iDiddy, we wouldn’t pick them as alternatives to Sony’s MDR-EX70/71 or EX81 series earbuds, or the many others we’ve tried and preferred. Additionally, the plastic earbud holder clips aren’t attached with glue to the iLanyard, and we’ve had a couple of them pop off during use. They can be put back on, but a bad jostle at some point will surely cause you to lose one of them.
Full-Sized iPod Version and General Comments on Case Design
The full-sized iPod version of iDiddy ($59.95) we received was onyx/black-colored, with attachment rings and hooks that are chrome in color. This color combination looked best in testing with a U2 iPod, and though the case was physically able to accommodate a 60GB iPod, it’s sold only for use with 20 through 40GB 4G iPods.
Our single biggest issue with each of the iDiddy cases was that they just weren’t tailored in an attractive way. They’re boxy, with front and back faces that stick out beyond their left, right and bottom sides, and an especially prominent open top with flaps that jut out above the iPod’s top surface. There’s a Dock Connector hole on iDiddy’s bottom, plus holes for each of the iPod’s bottom corners, each with the only uneven tailoring and stitching on the case. Consequently, the iPod’s Dock Connector is more exposed on its left than on its right, where there’s only just enough space to connect one of Apple’s official cables. This trimming imperfection is not visible most of the time, and won’t bother most people, but it doesn’t look great.
On the bright side, you can see and use your iPod while inside the case, and though it doesn’t look great, you won’t have a problem accessing both the controls and screen. The case is also thin enough (and without a belt clip) that you can easily toss it into any bag without the iLanyard attached, though you might not want to depend on it to protect the bottom or top of your iPod from scratches. A better design would have anticipated the case’s potential use independent of the iLanyard, and better protected the iPod’s body against damage under such circumstances.
The only other issue worth noting with the full-sized version of iDiddy is one we’ve mentioned before with other lanyard attachments: we’re not sure that anyone really wants to wear a full-sized iPod around his or her neck. Current generation 20GB models aren’t exactly lightweight or small, and we felt their weight constantly when testing iDiddy; now-discontinued 40GB models are even meatier. At a time when even Flavor Flav’s stopped wearing clocks around his neck, we just don’t see this particular model of iDiddy as practical.
iPod mini Version
The iPod mini version of iDiddy ($49.95) is virtually identical to the full-sized iPod version, only smaller. Our review unit was mocha/brown in color, and used gold rings and clasps instead of silver/chrome ones. Like the full-sized iPod case, it exposes the bottom corners and Dock Connector of the mini, here leaving enough space for most cables to attach on the bottom, but with more space on the right than on the left. Because of tailoring, this case also had more of a tendency to expose parts of the iPod mini’s metal than the full-sized iPod case did, though not enough to bother most people.
Connection of the iLanyard is exactly the same with the iPod mini version, and the case generally had all the same good and bad points identified above, except two, We were not especially fond of the gold and brown colors of this case, and thought that they were especially ill-suited visually to the body of an iPod. As with the full-sized iPod version, we’ve previously expressed our feelings about the discomfort of wearing an iPod mini on your neck (see our review of Apple’s iPod mini Lanyard, iLounge rating: B-), and iDiddy adds a little extra weight by virtue of its casing. It’s not unwearable, and personal tastes may differ, but it’s not something we’d want to wear on our necks.
iPod shuffle version
The iPod shuffle version of iDiddy is different from the larger versions in two ways. First, it’s less expensive ($44.95), and second, there’s a hole in the back so that you can access the iPod shuffle’s rear switch. The hole is unusually cut and misaligned with the shuffle’s switch, such that the top of the switch is covered by leather, and a few millimeters of plastic below the bottom battery indicator button are exposed, as well. Its front plastic coverage of the shuffle’s Control Pad is slightly misaligned, though not in a way that most people will mind. There’s no way to see the shuffle’s indicator lights while it’s inside the case.
Overall, iDiddy for the iPod shuffle is not as professionally cut or stitched as any of the leather iPod shuffle cases we’ve seen, and it’s not the first case we’d want to toss into a bag or pocket, even without the iLanyard. As with the other iDiddy cases, there are still holes on this one’s bottom side corners, as well as at its top, and though it probably doesn’t need to be pointed out, there’s no way to use the iPod shuffle’s lanyard cap here, either - it’s only for use with the standard USB cap.
Calling any case a “hot designer way to wear your iPod” is pretty bold, but it’s especially difficult to make a reality in a product like this one. As iDiddy illustrates, it’s three times as hard to make a case, a lanyard, and headphones that will all appeal to any given person. It would have helped if any one of the three parts was really a standout in some way, but based on what we’ve previously seen and tested for the iPod, they’re not, and iDiddy compounds the problem by selling at prices higher than all but the best cases we’ve tested for their respective models. In our judgment, if this three-in-one design concept is to work at all, more polished and less expensive followups to iDiddy will have a better chance of winning the hearts, necks, and ears of iPod fans.