Review: Speck Products iPod Skin | iLounge

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B-Limited Recommendation

Company: Speck Products

Website: www.SpeckProducts.com

Model: iPod Skin

Price: $18.95, $28.95 (3-Pack)

Compatible: iPod 3G

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Speck Products iPod Skin

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By Austin Agarwal

Contributing Editor
Published: Monday, March 22, 2004
Category: Cases - iPods + Accessories, iPod 3G (with Dock Connector)

Pros: Inexpensive price, nice flap to let the iPod be docked.

Cons: Missing screen, wheel and button protection, Kraton material may create insertion, use and removal problems which vary based on the thickness of your iPod.

Though leather and metal iPod cases have their fans, it often seems as if the majority of iPod users have developed a fascination with rubber or silicone cases. Manufacturers have responded with plenty of such cases, adding or subtracting features to differentiate their products from the bunch. This is where Speck Products comes in - its Kraton plastic iPod Skin is another, slightly harder-feeling answer to the “rubberized” iPod craze. However, with much of the market being dominated by another company, can the iPod Skin really compete?

Features

Many of the bells and whistles one finds on other rubber/silicon cases are absent in the iPod Skin’s simple design; most noticeably a screen protector, or belt clip. Available in only three color choices: charcoal, clear, and cobalt blue, the iPod skin also lacks the customized feeling other cases provide.

With all of these features missing, one might be tempted to ask, “why even bother with this case?” The answer is simple, as is the iPod Skin itself: it has a unique feature.

Speck designed the iPod Skin to offer a very practical solution for docking the iPod - whereas other cases force users to remove the iPod from the case or use a potentially awkward hole in the case to expose the iPod’s dock port, the iPod Skin features a large bottom flap which, when desired, folds out to expose enough of the iPod for it to securely sit in the dock. This nifty concept is warmly welcomed, and works well.

That is not to say, however, that the case has no other features. It offers ample protection against drops and scratches for most of the iPod, covering most of the player with a plastic that’s harder than silicone rubber but softer and more flexible than typical hard plastic. Yet as mentioned before, the iPod Skin does lack a method to protect the screen from scratches, and does not offer any covering over the scroll wheel or touch buttons.

Fit and Function

Speck classifies the iPod Skin as “one size fits all,” and we tested the case in this review on a 15 gigabyte 3rd Generation iPod. Due to friction from the walls of the case, getting it on was slightly more difficult than we desired, and insertion or removal of a 30/40 gigabyte 3rd generation iPod would be even less comfortable for a user. The Kraton plastic doesn’t offer quite as much “give” as we would have liked.

And that’s ironic, because once the iPod is in the case, the fit feels a bit loose. The button holes are well placed, and there were no issues with accessing buttons during our daily usage. Although we never worried about the iPod falling from the case, the dock flap did feel a bit insecure. Because the case is made to “fit” any thickness of iPod, yet the plastic doesn’t expand and contract quite like rubber, the iPod Skin doesn’t feel quite perfect on a thinner iPod. The gap between the rest of the case and the flap, for example, leaves more than enough room for dirt and sand to cause damage to the iPod - if you’re using it in that type of environment.

Another concern that has kept many people away from rubberized or silicone cases is the “sticky” surface of the case. Because of this factor, the iPod was surprisingly difficult to remove from a pocket when in the iPod Skin, perhaps even more so than competing products because of the tack of the Kraton plastic.

Conclusion

The iPod Skin offers cost-effective, simple, and attractive protection for the iPod. While it lacks certain attractive features of silicone-based cases, it offers at least one practical feature which justifies its existence. But whether it’s right for you depends strictly on your personal needs and the thickness of your iPod.

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Editors' Note: iLounge only reviews products in "final" form, but many companies now change their offerings - sometimes several times - after our reviews have been published. This iLounge article provides more information on this practice, known as revving.

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