SBS Innovations iShok 5G Video
Pros: A solidly-built clear hard case with rubber bumper reinforcement; Rubber seal between case halves, combined with near-complete iPod coverage, provides a significant level of ‘weather resistance’.
Cons: Headphone port too small for third-party plugs; one-size fits all design penalizes 30GB users with unnecessary thickness; rugged look may not appeal to all.
The latest version of SBS’s iShok case is described by the company as shockproof and “weather resistant,” combining hard clear plastic and softer rubber in a design that’s very obviously been well thought through in almost all the particulars. The design isn’t without its compromises, but it’s a really solid concept that’s been well implemented.
The iShok Video is a rugged case constructed from “Impact Grade Polycarbonate,” a hard, scratch resistant plastic, with either black or white rubber molding wrapped around the sides of the case, and lining the seam between the case’s two shells, which meet at the top of the iPod in a sturdy hinge.
While we’re not sure we’d consider the relatively thin rubber to be extremely “shock absorbent”, the mating between it and the clear, hard plastic is strong and clean - a manufacturing feat easier said than done. The case’s two snap closures, themselves rubber formed atop hard plastic, are much stronger than their small size would suggest; we never had any worries about the case opening when we didn’t want it to, unlike several other cases we’ve reviewed.
While the case isn’t any more prone to scratches than other polycarbonate cases, nearly all of these lose one point in our ‘resilience’ category, as they will clearly tend to accumulate scratches over time in everyday use, eventually decreasing the visibility of the screen.
The iShok provides at least some measure of access to all of the iPod’s key access areas, save for one: the Hold switch. To access the Hold switch, the iPod must be essentially removed from the case. The case also loses one point in this category since the case must be opened in order to connect a cable to the Dock Connector port, a potentially deal-breaking issue for those who connect to this port often at home or in the car. Additionally, the case’s headphone port hole can only accommodate plugs which match the tiny diameter of Apple’s packed-in earbuds, preventing use with an overwhelming majority of third-party headphones.
On a positive note, iPod’s screen is pristinely visible through the case’s clear material, and although its Click Wheel is covered with rubber, it remains entirely usable, with only slightly more deliberate action required when scrolling.
Without any significant accessories included in the package - for example, a belt clip - the iShok’s only points in this category are awarded for its unique hybrid material design, and for the fairly robust water resistance that its rubber seal offers.
When inside a closed iShok, the iPod is basically 98% covered, with the only exposing portion of the case being the aforementioned small headphone port.
Furthermore, with the case’s sturdy hard shell and rubber bumpers, the impact protection is substantial, and the iShok’s casual water & dust resistance is an added bonus.
Although it doesn’t and needn’t factor into our rating system for this category, the only potential weak point in this case’s level of protection is the fact that you’re frequently forced to bypass it entirely, removing the iPod for syncing or connection to a car stereo.
At $30, the iShok costs a little under what we’d consider ‘fair’ for a full-size iPod case, representing a good value. Additionally, we liked the case’s clever design and solid manufacturing enough to add a couple points here, bumping it solidly into our “recommended”-level B+ status.
The iShok Video is a well-executed good design. With substantial protection of both the impact and environmental varieties, it’s a case you can trust to keep your iPod safe, and at a reasonable price. If its rugged look appeals to you, if you don’t mind opening the case to sync, and if you only use Apple’s packed-in earbuds, we’d recommend the iShok.
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.