Company: Pods Plus
Compatible: iPod 5G
Pods Plus Silicone Skin With and Without Beltclip for 5G iPod
Pros: Simple, functional 5G iPod silicone cases in four colors with full face, back, and side protection. Included fabric lanyard necklace and wrist strap, belt clip option. Reasonable price.
Cons: No frills look and feel, screen protector doesn’t integrate well with non-belt clip version, belt clip nub doesn’t integrate well in belt clip version. Necklace is pointless for larger iPods.
Innovation has recently started to transform the stagnant silicone rubber case making process into something more diverse - some companies are working to advance their cases past the flat, boring designs that are being cloned and re-cloned all across Asia, while others have been content to produce those clones with small, iterative tweaks to match each new iPod. Pods Plus falls into the latter category. Its Silicone Skins for the fifth-generation (video) iPod ($15) are virtually identical to cases we received at the same time from another company, and we expect that there will be many similar takes in the future.
Four colors of the Silicone Skin are available across two sizes: “baby blue,” “black,” “ghost white,” and “pink,” each in 30GB and 60GB-tailored versions. We received the 60GB translucent pink and opaque black colors, each of which comes with a hard screen protector and two white fabric straps, one for your neck - which we see as pointless for something as heavy as a 5G iPod - and one for your wrist. You can attach either strap to two small holes on the case’s rear top side, or leave them off. The clear screen protector uses four small rubber pads to stay in place while avoiding hard contact with your 5G iPod.
There are two vaguely interesting twists here. For the same $15 price, you choose either a flat-backed Silicone Skin without a detachable belt clip, or one that includes a detachable belt clip nub system. The latter case has a metal screw hole in the back of the case, and a clear plastic screw-in nub, plus a frosted clear plastic belt clip. Initially, our advice would have been to skip the belt clip version: our review unit’s plastic piece didn’t screw into the metal hole properly, and looked really cheap, besides. The case would have been better without it.
But when we tried the non-belt clip case, we noticed that it was thinner and floppier than the belt clip one, and didn’t fit our 60GB iPod as well - mostly around the screen protector, which worked just fine on the belt clipped case. On the flat backed one, the protector looked and felt more than a bit “off,” which was really disappointing. Though they’re a hint better than okay, neither one of these cases is as good as you’d expect it to be.
To their credit, when used with the included screen protector, both Silicone Skins cover the iPod’s entire face - including the Click Wheel - and don’t look too bad doing it. They also provide good side, back, top, and bottom coverage, with appropriately-sized headphone and Dock Connector holes, plus one for the Hold switch. We continue to prefer cases that offer comprehensive top and bottom hole protection, but the Silicone Skins are fine in this regard, and certainly better than some older cases we’ve seen.
Other than the poor belt clip and screen fit issues, the cases fall short mostly on looks: they are about as plain as these cases get, a throwback to the way rubber cases looked back two years ago, and basically indistinguishable from all of the other generic silicone cases we see these days. Taken together, these issues account for our limited recommendations: buy the belt clip version only if you either are willing to deal with the belt clip not being all that great, especially if you will use the case without it, and get the non belt-clip version only if you’re not too picky about its fit and finish around the screen protector. If it wasn’t for these issues, this would have been a tougher call for us on ratings - is a $15 silicone case that’s generic but protective a smarter buy than a $25 one that’s better looking but not as protective? We don’t have to answer that question today, but with the increase in simple silicone cases, we expect we’ll have to in the near future. For now, these are fine temporary cases until something better comes along.