Pods Plus Aluminum V2 Case for iPod Video
Pros: Five different color combination versions of a hard, drop-proof metal case for the fifth-generation iPod, each with a front hinged lid, clear hard plastic screen protector, detachable lanyard necklace, and easy access to the iPod’s ports and controls. Innovative integrated rubber Click Wheel protector guards the remaining front piece of your iPod without compromising control access. Includes good detachable belt clip and nub, as well as lanyard necklace, and comes in sizes tailored to the 30GB and 60GB iPods.
Cons: Exposes iPod’s headphone port and Hold switch, and bottom back a little too generously, leaving scratch potential; Dock Connector port is exposed but not large enough to use with anything but Apple’s (and similarly super-small) cables. Lanyard is not useful for most full-sized iPod users.
We’ve tested an almost endless variety of metal iPod cases, and reviewed a dozen or so of the best ones - so many are duplicates of others that they’re not worth keeping up with. Released very early in the 5G iPod’s life span, Pods’ Plus Aluminum Case (iLounge rating: B+) struck us as fairly typical but competent - not especially innovative, but nice-looking. Now the company has released the Aluminum V2 Case for iPod Video ($30), which adds one new feature to the old package. As the name suggests, the bulk of each case is made from aircraft-grade silver or black aluminum, with the now-traditional clear screen protector integrated into its face. Novel to V2 is an integrated rubber Click Wheel protector, not designed to be user-removable, which comes in four different colors - frosted clear, black, red, or blue - paired with the black case, with a silver case and black Wheel protector as a fifth option. As before, each case includes a detachable plastic belt clip and nub, plus a silver lanyard necklace, and Pods Plus sells separate versions for 30GB and 60GB iPods, each sized properly for the model’s ports and bodies. Our review below is heavily based on the prior V1 review, with notes where this case rates better.
As with virtually all of the metal cases out there, the Aluminum Case V2 is a two-piece design, using a lid that opens with a hinge; like most, this one’s located on the case’s bottom. There are small extruded grips on the case’s top sides, and four extruded nubs on their backs to prevent the case’s rear surface from rubbing against any surface you might lay it on. There’s also the rubber integrated Click Wheel cover, which sits a millimeter or two under the case’s front surface and is physically built into the case with interior adhesive padding, which holds the Click Wheel cover steady. In fact, every iPod-touching portion of the case’s interior is appropriately lined with that material, a thin layer of black foam that protects against iPod scratching, so there’s no concern when you place your iPod inside or take it out - it feels snug, and safe. All of the parts feel well-made, sturdy, and properly tailored to each iPod’s shape and size.
The Aluminum V2 provides access to literally all of the iPod’s key parts, with only one small limitation: the Dock Connector port at the bottom, while exposed, is only large enough for standard-sized Dock Connector plug accessories, and not anything even slightly larger: Belkin’s TuneTalk Stereo and Targus’s Mobile Security Locks, for instance, can’t be connected to the iPod while inside, and many car accessories will have the same problem. Everything else is generously-sized - maybe a little too much so, at the top - and very accessible. Pods Plus’ integrated hard see-through screen protector isn’t perfectly clear, but it’s close, and does not significantly distort the iPod’s video playback.
Though there’s nothing incredible about the metal case design here - it’s the same as many of the ones we’ve seen in the past - the key innovation here is a fairly significant one by metal case standards. By building a rubber Click Wheel protector into the V2 case, Pods Plus has enabled iPod owners to do what no company since Matias has offered for a full-sized iPod: full integrated frontal protection, without sticker-like covers or a big gaping hole. Unlike Matias’s cover, which precluded you from using the iPod’s controls, this one provides complete control access, and works well at that task. It’s a bonus that you get to choose the color of that protector, allowing it to look as neutral or obvious as you prefer. The company also includes a detachable belt clip and nub, plus a lanyard necklace, the former feature acceptably executed - not as nice a clip as before - but the latter feature’s not especially useful for a full-sized iPod because of weight, especially when the added bulk of the case is considered.
On protection, the V2 rates about as highly as any metal case we’ve tested since the old Matias iPod Armor cases: closing the front lid results in protection of the majority of the iPod’s body: everything but the Hold switch, headphone port, and Dock Connector port is covered, notably including the aforementioned protection of the Click Wheel. Additionally, the aluminum body is solid enough to withstand a drop. There are only a few omissions worth noting: Pods Plus leaves a half-circle of exposed area on the iPod’s back next to its Dock Connector, as a way to help you pop the iPod out of the case, and both the headphone port and Hold switch holes are generously sized.
As we said with the original Aluminum Case for iPod Video, the V2 is a nice-looking, sturdy metal case, and this one does an even better job of protecting your iPod than before - an innovation we certainly appreciate. We previously noted that the $30 asking price was reasonable given the quality of the body, belt clip and nub, and since this one is selling for the same price with added protection, it’s an even better value than before. Though not the ultimate in full iPod protection - Otter’s OtterBoxes offer more comprehensive hard protection, with a waterproof guarantee - the V2 delivers an approximating alternative at a lower price. It’s better than last year’s model, and highly recommendable overall.
A Note From the Editors of iLounge: Though all products and services reviewed by iLounge are "final," many companies now make changes to their offerings after publication of our reviews, which may or may not be reflected above. This iLounge article provides more information on this practice, known as revving.