Company: Power Support
Model: Crystal Jacket
Compatible: iPod nano (video), iPod classic, iPod touch
Power Support Crystal Jacket for iPod nano 3G, iPod classic & iPod touch
Though not always mentioned on its web site, the term that Power Support often uses on its iPod case packages is "set" -- there's the Crystal Film Set, the Crystal Jacket Set, the Silicone Jacket Set, and so on. This three-letter word turns out to be important: it lets you know that there are many parts in each package, and implicitly, that Power Support has thought about covering as much of your iPod as possible.
Once again, the company’s Crystal Jacket Sets for the third-generation iPod nano ($25), iPod classic ($30), and iPod touch ($30) follow in this mold. Each of these clear hard plastic cases comes with a front shell, a rear shell, film protectors for the front and back of the iPod, and a rubber Dock Connector port cover. Then, Power Support includes a second rear shell piece for video viewing: the iPod nano version includes a detachable clip and video stand, while the iPod classic and touch versions have flip-out video stands permanently attached to one of their two included rear shells; the touch version rotates for widescreen viewing.
Each of these solutions offers a combination of high-quality protection, clean design, and good value. The iPod nano and classic versions come only in clear and don’t cover the headphone port or Hold switch—a common design choice for these iPod models—but the optional Dock Connector cover is there. Sold in clear or a clear black version, which visually neutralizes the touch’s odd-looking rear antenna, the iPod touch case exposes its Sleep/Wake button, Home button, and headphone port. Some of the best-designed cases for iPod touch have found ways to cover both the Sleep/Wake button and Home button with plastic; we wish Power Support had done the same. All three cases are Universal Dock compatible, and work with virtually any accessory except for ones that use extra-large connectors or take up the entire width of the iPod’s bottom.
It bears special mention that Power Support’s film solutions, derived from its Crystal Film sets rather than its Anti-Glare ones, continue to be the best out there for the iPod nano and iPod classic. In addition to being virtually invisible once applied to your iPod’s screen, the company still includes its specially designed 3-D Wheel Film, which unlike most of its competitors covers the nano and classic’s central Action buttons; only the iPod touch film omits similar coverage for the Home button. Each set’s rear film cover provides some additional anti-scratch protection for the iPod’s glossy metal rear surface; you needn’t apply the film if you don’t want the added coverage.
There’s not much to complain about with the rest of these cases. Each blends typically good looks with a thickness of hard plastic that isn’t in any way objectionably thin or thick, particularly when you’re not using the video stand/belt clip versions—the cases feel as if they’re as strong as Griffin’s iClears, but not as bulky. If you want a case you can pocket easily, you have the option; if you want video viewing functionality, you can use that rear part and deal with the slight added thickness. Our only issue is that the flip-out stand’s location on the iPod touch’s back is fine for widescreen viewing, but when it’s in vertical orientation, no room is left for the headphone port to be accessed, a small issue for people who want to browse the web and listen to music at the same time while resting touch on a flat surface.
All in all, the Crystal Jacket Sets for iPod nano, classic, and touch may sell for higher prices than alternatives such as Griffin’s iClear cases, but they also offer more protection, and more versatility thanks to their video stands. The major impediment to a higher rating is the presence of DLO’s VideoShell for iPod touch, which offers comparable protection and functionality at an aggressive price of $20, albeit without the iPod touch’s dual color options. While we’d put these cases on the fine edge of our A- and B+ ratings, they’re tipped over to the A- category by virtue of their hard-to-fault build quality and approaches to protection.