Company: Pods Plus
Price: $14.99 (2-pack)
Pods Plus Silicone Skins for iPod shuffle
Pros: An inexpensive rubber iPod shuffle case, available in numerous colors. Includes USB cap cover.
Cons: Easily damaged in normal use, not as well-designed as other shuffle cases we’ve tested and liked.
Only a month ago, we reviewed the first silicone rubber cases for the iPod shuffle - Pacific Rim Technologies’ Gel Shields - and found them to be pretty good. Shortly thereafter, we received a set of highly similar cases called Silicone Skins from Pods Plus - two-packs that sell for an even more affordable price of $14.99, and come in a wider array of colors. Each two-pack includes one case in “ghost white,” which is really frosted clear, and then you pick a second case that’s blue, black, gray, hot pink, lime green, orange, light pink, spring green, or yellow.
When we say “highly similar,” we mean “almost identical.” The cases look like they could have come off the same mold - both cover every inch of an iPod shuffle save its headphone port, include one USB cap cover (for the standard USB cap), and use a slightly thinner window on their backs to provide power switch access. Each has extruded icons to match those on the front of the iPod shuffle.
They also have the same advantages: easy compatibility with third-party headphones, no problem popping off the USB cap and/or using your lanyard cap, and a simple way to change the color of your iPod shuffle. As for shared disadvantages, there’s no lanyard cap cover and the rear power switch isn’t as easy to properly access as in Power Support’s superbly designed Silicone Jacket. Each case is also thin enough not to give as much of an attractive frosted look as the Silicone Jacket and some other cases we’ve tested, such as Speck’s SkinTight cases.
The only major difference is the rubber. Pacific Rim’s is softer, and Pods Plus’ is harder. And while Pacific Rim’s rubber ripped slightly only when we were overaggressive in pulling the case, Pods Plus’ rubber ripped in the regular course of use. A piece of the blue case shown here came off when we were trying to pull the case on for its second or third use with a fingernail. In further testing, we found that simply putting two fingernails together and pulling on the case was enough to cause huge tears to the rubber, rendering the case even less attractive and useful.
This puts us in a quandry. Our review system provides a simple grading mechanism for products that are defective and broken when we receive them - an automatic D- - but no simple way to deal with a case that tears when used normally. In virtually every way, the Pods Plus case is a duplicate of the B+ rated Gel Shield, but cheaper, and easier for us to damage. We can’t say for sure whether other users will have the same experience - or even care for the inexpensive price - but we weren’t happy about the tear in any way. As such, we haven’t continued to use the case, and view it as a major disappointment.
That would typically qualify for our old “sad” rating - in the D+ range - but we suspect that some people will be willing to put up with the risk of issues for the low price. Despite its positive traits, we’d have to call this a C- case overall - there are now other, more attractive options out there with no risk of damage during normal usage, and with smarter design touches besides. In our final judgment, this is a cheap case, and will perform like one if pushed. If you can live with that, you can make the choice whether to give it a try - or buy a more resilient competitor.
Jeremy Horwitz is Editor-in-Chief of iLounge.