Company: Power Support
Model: Illusion Cases
Price: $30 (iPod nano), $40 (5G)
Compatible: iPod nano, 5G
Power Support Illusion Cases for iPod and iPod nano
Pros: Largely protective, chrome-like mirrored hard plastic cases for iPods and iPod nanos, each including three shells - an opaque mirrored rear shell, a translucent mirrored front shell, and a totally clear front shell - together allowing you to enjoy full or partial mirror-like reflectivity without scratching your iPod’s body. Eye-catching mirrored front plate lets you see iPod’s screen when backlight’s turned on.
Cons: Like iPods, cases’ surfaces aren’t hard to scratch. No Click Wheel cover or other pack-ins included.
Sold as three-piece sets, Power Support’s Illusion Cases - previously named Mirror Cases - for iPod ($40) and iPod nano ($30) represent true rarities in the increasingly crowded and predictable iPod case market: well-executed, original designs. Each Illusion Case includes two front shells - one mirrored, one clear - and one mirrored rear shell. When the mirrored face is attached, you see your reflection across its entire surface… until the iPod’s screen is activated. At that point, the iPod’s screen shines through the housing, only modestly dimmed by the case. Users of black iPods should take pleasure in the fact that their models are less visible through the front shell than white iPods, which betray a slight outline even when turned off.
The Illusion Cases score almost perfectly on build quality - as with all of the precision-made Power Support cases we’ve seen in the past, they have no issues with fit or finish out of the package: each of the 5G cases is sized to the thickness of its specific iPod model (30GB or 60GB), and the nano case fits all capacities of the nano. In each case, the iPod’s Click Wheel is properly ringed by a hole cut in the case’s face, and the iPod’s top and bottom ports are properly aligned. Additional small holes in the top left corner of the 5G case, and in both top sides of the nano case, let you pass an optional wrist strap through for carrying. The only imperfections we noted in the cases were post-purchase ones: it’s not difficult to scratch an Illusion Case’s body, leading to a one-point deduction here, though you won’t mind it anywhere near as much as you would if you’d scratched the iPod inside.
Each version of the Illusion Case provides full access to the iPod’s Click Wheel controls, Hold switch, and top and bottom ports, and though we’d normally deduct a single point because the iPod’s mirror-covered screen is dimmed a bit from its normal brightness level, Power Support’s inclusion of an alternate front shield eliminates this issue. If you want clear access to your iPod’s screen, use the clear shield. Additionally, the top and bottom ports proved easy to use even with oversized headphone and Dock Connector plugs, but don’t feel as if they’re overly generous in size.
The obvious feature that earns the Illusion Cases the bulk of their points here is Power Support’s mirrored coating - a translucent mirrored film in the front shell and an opaque mirrored surface in the rear shell, together making your iPod look entirely chromed until its screen is turned on. Though we’ve seen similar ideas in certain Sony Network Walkmen, no one’s done this before in an iPod case, and it’s a great idea - so great, in fact, that Apple should consider it or a similar variant as a color option for future iPods. Power Support also earns another point here for including a second front shell with every case, which gives you the option of seeing as much of your iPod’s face as you prefer, and also a backup in case your primary face place becomes scratched.
The Illusion Cases lose only a few points on protectiveness: they don’t cover your iPod’s Dock Connector port, Hold Switch, or Click Wheel in any way. Most people won’t mind the open Dock Connector or Hold Switch, but the open Wheel is a shame given that Power Support makes great Click Wheel covers. It could easily include one in each package for these cases’ prices, and the absence of this item is the only reason the cases rated an A- rather than a flat A.
While neither version of the Illusion Case is inexpensive - the 5G version sells for $40, and the nano one for $30 - the prices are essentially reasonable given what you get in each package. Two front shells and one rear shell, together constituting a very novel design, are worthy of these prices, and we award two tilt points because we affirmatively liked these cases - in fact, we’ve been using them actively for a few weeks, and they continue to garner positive comments whenever people see them. We consider the Illusion Cases to be amongst the best iPod cases we’ve tested, and feel that they thoroughly deserve our high recommendation.
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.