Company: Pods Plus
Model: iPod Nano Skin
Compatible: iPod nano
Pods Plus iPod Nano Skin
Pros: A functional silicone rubber iPod nano case - the first to market - with protection for the most of nano’s front, back, sides, and top. Available in eleven colors.
Cons: No frills look and feel. Screen is completely exposed at all times, as are Hold switch and Dock Connector Port. Design is very simplistic and slick to the touch, lacking grip or texture dots; wristband and necklace are very small, requiring user to poke holes in case’s back to be used.
Though highly predictable in concept and execution, Pods’ Plus iPod Nano Skin ($11.99 each) is quite timely: with tremendous public concern over iPod nano scratches, the company has delivered the first silicone rubber case actually purchasable for the nano, even beating Apple Computer’s own nano Skins to market.
There are a number of things to like about iPod Nano Skin. It covers all of the nano’s surfaces, leaving only holes for its screen, Hold switch, headphone port and Dock Connector port at the bottom. A thin strip of rubber separates the headphone and Dock Connector ports, a touch we were pleasantly surprised to see. Two grooves in the case’s back can be cut with a knife if you want to wear the case on a belt or with an elastic armband, neither included, while two dots on the bottom left side can be punched through for use with a white fabric necklace or wristband, both of which are included.
Eleven colors of iPod Nano Skins are available, only one of which is presently listed by the company as backordered. You can choose from baby blue, black, dark orange, ghost white, gray, hot pink, lime green, light orange, orange red, pink, purple, and yellow. Our sample units were the ghost white - the presently backordered color - and the purple.
Pods Plus has made this case thin and almost soft in texture, without any grip dots or other design flourishes - something we expect that other companies will rememdy in short order. Though the Click Wheel doesn’t have a specially sculpted circle in the rubber, it’s still easy enough to use through the Skin’s thin front membrane, if a little odd and smooth to the touch. The Hold switch is also easy to use, though it could (and probably should) have also been covered without a problem. More positively, while the case’s headphone port hole is small, the case is thin enough that it doesn’t matter: oversized headphones still fit, and stay in above the rubber. The same is true with the Dock Connector port hole. We really would prefer that more of these holes were covered, either full-time or by slits, but we’ll have to see how companies evolve nano case design over time.
Our biggest issues with Nano Skins are these: first, there’s no screen protection, which we think has taken on even greater importance with the nano than its predecessors. Second, the design is very generic, the model of a commodity silicone case if ever we’ve seen one - other than the “cut it yourself” back slits on these cases, there’s nothing distinctive about the look of these Skins, even by comparison with Apple’s fairly tame nano Tubes, which we’ve seen in person. The holes aren’t nicely framed or especially well cut; they’re functional and adequate, but not much more.
Third, the wrist strap is useless for anything other than the smallest of hands - it won’t fit around an adult male hand even if tugged. The necklace is also on the very small side, and compounded a bit by the location of the dots in the case’s corner: nano will hang from a corner when worn rather than straight down.
Pods Plus is making a reputation for itself as a first to market, okay-or-better silicone case developer, and while these are decent enough cases for the time being, we know that substantially better offerings are coming. Because of their general level of protectiveness, iPod Nano Skins set a “just enough to be recommendable” standard by which future iPod nano silicone cases should be judged. We sincerely hope that other companies work harder - and a little longer - to come up with designs that stand out more from their predecessors and “the pack.” Given Apple’s planned release of a $29 package with five silicone cases similar to these, we expect that generic case prices will fall commensurately, and only the real stand-outs will be able to merit a premium.