Review: Speck Products Grass and Cloud FunSkins for iPod 5G
Pros: Two uniquely shaped, well made, tough rubber cases with great hard screen protectors. Removeable belt clip. Headphone and dock connector holes are compatible with third party headphones and accessories.
Cons: No clickwheel, dock connector, or hold switch protection. Without more complete protection, these cases are expensive, though some may be willing to pay for the unique look.
When Speck Products announced its initial lineup of iPod nano cases, we were collectively impressed, especially with the uniqueness in style exhibited by their Cloud and Grass “FunSkin” cases. When, upon the release of the fifth generation iPod, they chose to simply scale their existing iPod nano cases to the full-size iPod’s dimensions, we can’t say we were surprised, but we weren’t entirely disappointed, either.
Grass FunSkin for iPod (with video)
Speck’s Grass FunSkin for the fifth generation iPod is a larger version of their otherwise identical iPod nano version (iLounge rating: B). The Grass FunSkin is available in both black and green colors, and is molded with Speck’s Kraton plastic, which is similar to but tougher than the silicone utilized by many iPod case manufacturers today.
Visually, the Grass FunSkin is clearly different from most soft cases, with several hundred short plastic stubs creating a surface that’s - well - fun to play with and comfortable to hold. The overall feel is more “grippy” than “prickly.” Frankly, we didn’t expect to have so much fun with such a case, but we have to admit: it feels good to use.
We found the Grass FunSkin case to be well-constructed, and it fit our iPods well, lining up all holes and controls perfectly. It should be noted that we weren’t as concerned about the plastic stubs weakening and breaking off as we thought we’d be: Speck’s Kraton plastic is quite tough.
Cloud FunSkin for iPod (with video)
We didn’t find the Cloud FunSkin to be nearly “Fun” as the Grass model. Available only in white, the case indeed has the look of a puffy cloud, or even the Michelin Man. Despite its light, puffy appearance, its Kraton material makes the Cloud FunSkin much less puffy than it looks. Rather, it’s as tough and plasticy as any other of Speck’s cases. It may not be as “fun” either to play with or look at than the Grass FunSkin, but the Cloud shape does manage to serve as a handy grip, and is certainly more uniquely shaped than most silicone cases.
Several features - and concerns - of the FunSkin cases are common to both varieties, so we’ll discuss them together here.
The FunSkin cases include an excellent hard screen protector, whose perimeter is lined with color-matching Kraton plastic: a nice touch that keeps the iPod’s face from scratching should the protector slide around a bit. With the 5G iPod’s video abilities making it more screen-centric than its predecessors, we’re increasingly concerned with the clarity of anything we put over our screens, but thankfully, we found Speck’s included screen protectors to be both clear and distortion-free.
As far as protection is concerned, the most troubling aspect of the FunSkin cases is their lack of clickwheel protection: a problem should you plan to carry your iPod in a pocket alongside anything else. Neither the hold switch nor the dock connector port is protected, either, though there is otherwise satisfactory top and bottom coverage, in contrast with Speck’s nano-sized designs.
The FunSkins’ belt clip assemblies are commonplace generic parts, consisting of a small plastic “stub” which slides into a plastic and metal clip, locking the case into place while still rotating freely.
For users who won’t be using a belt clip at all, each cases’ plastic stub can be easily removed by pulling it through the case’s interior, leaving the case’s back side free of obstruction.
Both Cloud and Grass versions of the 5G FunSkin come in one size only. That is, users of slim (30GB) fifth generation iPods need to place an included piece of Kraton plastic behind their iPod prior to inserting it. The cases fit 60GB iPods without any modification.
We’ve never been huge fans of “one-size-fits-all” cases which solve the issue of varying iPod thicknesses with such spacers, simply because they require users of thinner iPod models to carry around unnecessary thickness. Ideally, we prefer when companies offer multiple sizes of their cases, so everyone gets an optimal fit. However, for those that don’t mind this marginal extra thickness, the spacer system shouldn’t present a huge problem; this one is acceptably well designed.
Value and Conclusions
At $34.95 each, the Grass and Cloud FunSkins for 5G iPods each represent a slightly better value than their equally-priced iPod nano versions simply by virtue of their greater size, but they’re still a bit overpriced given their simplicity and fairly average level of protection. Though there’s nothing blatantly wrong with either of these cases, we’d feel more comfortable recommending Grass than we would Cloud, as its more profoundly unique shape comes closer to justifying its high price. These feelings are equivalent to those we had for Speck’s nano-sized FunSkins, and so we rate them equivalently - no surprise given their similarity.