Company: Speck Products
Compatible: iPod 4G, iPod photo
Speck Products iGuy
Pros: Highly creative holder/stand that turns your iPod into a standing character. Protects virtually all of your iPod (save its Click Wheel) and permits easy docking and normal use without a hassle. The best “weird” iPod accessory we’ve seen to date.
Cons: No Click Wheel protection, fairly high price for rubber “case”, not entirely practical to carry around because of limbs and bulk; some may not appreciate the humor in the design.
If you’ve looked at a picture of Speck Products’ iGuy ($34.95) already, you know the folly of referring to him as just another iPod case - he’s more than that. Following the much-publicized release last year of the posable iKub iPod stand, iGuy is the first iPod holder to transform a Click Wheel iPod into a character, adding legs, arms, and a padded derrierre to its existing body and face (screen). He’s made from soft white rubber-like plastic, and uses soft curves rather than sharp edges. If you’re using a standard black and white iPod, iGuy’s personification functionality is modest, but if you have an iPod photo, its potential is enormous. Suddenly you have a way to display your photos vertically. And an incentive to play around with them.
It’s easy, for instance, to give iGuy a face - just use a picture editing tool and create one, or take a photo of yourself and use it there. Alternately, you can use the iPod photo’s screen to display a message. Or run a slideshow with all sorts of interesting images - messages, photos, etcetera.
It helps that iGuy’s body resembles a couple of popular Japanese (and Internet) icons: face-on without an iPod inside, it looks like Domo-kun, and with the iPod inside, it looks a bit like certain Morolians from Sega’s Space Channel 5 series. Its alien-like arms are modestly posable, aided by a thick metal wire that runs through the case’s back (and looks somewhat like Domo-kun’s mouth), and its thick but short plastic legs keep the entire iGuy with iPod inside standing upright. A clear hard plastic spacer is included both to make the case fit different thicknesses of iPods, and provide hard reinforcement for the iPod’s back in case of a drop.
But is iGuy really useful for anything? Sort of - and that’s part of what makes him a strong B-level product rather than an A. On one hand, he’s almost as protective as iPod holders come. There’s a hard plastic screen protector just like the ones in Speck’s ToughSkins, plus full top, back, side and bottom coverage. The only holes are for the iPod’s Click Wheel, headphone port and Hold switch. On the other hand, he’s not the sort of “case” you practically will carry around. We wouldn’t put him against Speck’s large ToughSkin in the “case” category, for example, as you won’t be walking around with iGuy unless you’re wearing the baggiest jeans or carrying around a bag. He’s more of an iPod stand that you’ll want to display on a desk and tote around only occasionally. Even if we looked at him purely as an iPod stand and not a case, he’s still not the best stand we’ve seen - just one of the most creative.
iGuy does have one nice nod to practicality. His lower body folds open to allow you to connect the iPod’s Dock Connector easily to an Apple Dock, a pose which makes the whole unit look as if iGuy is using the toilet. It’s a pitch-perfect, funny design twist just right for the audience that will want the iGuy.
We’re routinely asked about the weirdest iPod accessories we’ve seen, and there’s no doubt in our minds that iGuy belongs on that list - perhaps at the very top of it. He’s one of the funniest and most creative ideas yet, but also not practical as the case he’s marketed to be, and the $34.95 asking price isn’t cheap. For these reasons, we think that people who like iGuy will love him, while others will shrug him off. On looks alone, we’re firmly in the love category, but won’t be using him on a daily basis - the hallmark of an A product. Regardless, he’s a great idea, and one who begs for further (and even more practical) exploitation.