Company: Speck Products
Compatible: iPod 4G/color/photo, mini
Speck Products iKitty for 4G iPod and mini
Pros: A hybrid iPod holder and stand that turns your 4G or mini iPod into a cat. Protects virtually all of your iPod (save its Click Wheel) and permits easy docking and normal use without a hassle.
Cons: Derivative, under-inspired design that’s less interesting and distinctive than its iGuy predecessor. No Click Wheel protection, high price for rubber “case,” not entirely practical to carry around because of tail. For cat lovers only.
We’re not yet ready to say the iPod toy craze is in its final fifteen minutes - to the contrary, there’s plenty left to do - but Speck Products’ iKitty ($34.95 for full-sized iPods and minis) didn’t quite light our fires of enthusiasm like the company’s last toy design, iGuy (iLounge rating: B+). Both case designs start with the same general idea: mostly encase your iPod in a thick layer of white soft plastic, throw a hard plastic screen protector in front, and a hard plastic plate in the back to keep the unit’s top and bottom standing upright together. In the full-sized iPod case, the plate flips over to act as a sizer for varying thicknesses of iPods, and works acceptably for that task.
Technically, the cat-like iKitty is no worse of a case or iPod stand than iGuy. Both products cover the same iPod surface area, leaving holes only for the Click Wheel, Hold switch and headphone port. Both open from the bottom to let you rest your iPod on a dock for syncing and charging.
And both sell for the same price - too high by most standards, but just tolerable for people who like the case’s charm. (Hasbro sells i-Dog (iLounge rating: B), a fully electronic interactive dog with an integrated speaker, for only $29.99; unless they’re really something special, plastic cases for $35 strike us as a comparatively bad deal, especially as a novelty.)
But charm is really what iKitty lacks. The bizarre iGuy’s two posable arms and humanoid body caught a lot of attention, and led to a lot of laughs - on originality, if nothing else. iKitty is comparatively derivative, and not as recognizable. The first pictures that emerged of the case told most of the story: you wouldn’t necessary realize it is a cat unless you really think about it, and you might just think it’s a melted iGuy. We couldn’t even get a dog to play with them - a major statement considering his appetite for real cats and almost any other iPod accessory that’s put in front of him. iKitty’s only distinguishing features are two rubber ears, and an odd “tail” that’s really a single, enlongated version of one of iGuy’s arm. Though it’s posable, that almost doesn’t matter, as it’s sticking out of the case’s left side.
This isn’t to say that iKitty’s bad. Assuming they think it looks enough like a cat for their needs, cat lovers - notoriously dedicated consumers - may really like these, niche approval that’s the mark of our B- rating. Because it’s technically as protective as iGuy, and equally well-constructed, we can’t knock its rating down too far. But as much as we liked iGuy, we couldn’t get excited about this design, and find the price commensurately more objectionable. Still, we’re going to remain hopeful that future iPod toys are forthcoming from Speck, and that they’re a bit better executed and reasonably priced than this one.