Company: Speck Products
Compatible: iPod shuffle
Speck Products Metal iPod Protection for iPod shuffle
Pros: Mirror-finished metal iPod shuffle case with matching USB cap, very solid build quality and easy access to shuffle’s controls on front and rear. Includes screwdriver to open and close case.
Cons: Headphone port is only large enough for Apple’s headphones (and similarly thin plugs), USB cap is too easily removed, mirror finish shows visible fingerprints immediately, and all the time unless wiped down.
Metal cases for the iPod shuffle have proved easy to make but tricky to make properly. Three pure metal cases we’ve reviewed (Griffin’s iVault, Core Cases’ Aluminum Case, and Exopod’s Aluminum Magnetic Case) have all been rated B+ based on idiosyncracies that may well bother many users, and a hybrid plastic and metal case (Capdase’s Luxury Metal Case) went the same way. But Speck Products has entered the arena with Metal iPod Protection for iPod shuffle ($24.95), a substantial-feeling, full-metal machined aluminum case with a mirror, chrome-like finish.
As with the other metal cases that have been released, this one has a bunch of good points and a couple of not-so-good points. Like the iVault, you’ll need to screw and unscrew the case to get it on your shuffle, but Speck was nice enough to include a small screwdriver to make the task easy - a plus. This case also uses two screws rather than four, plus two tabs at the bottom that hold the smaller back plate on the larger front plate.
Because of the screw-dependent design, there’s no choice but to expose both the shuffle’s rear and front controls, as well as a small groove for its status lights, and the shuffle’s headphone port. We preferred the angular design of iVault visually, but Speck’s take is nice as well.
Whether you prefer Speck’s chromed look or not is a matter of personal taste; we prefer the anodized or brushed aluminum look. As Speck’s site notes, “it’s easy to wipe clean and looks fantastic.” Both are true - when it’s wiped clean. But it does have more than a tendency to show fingerprints immediately, which isn’t a problem with any of the other metal shuffle cases we’ve tested save the black mirror version of Capdase’s Luxury case.
As with Capdase’s design, Speck includes a matching metal-covered USB cap with every case. The cap looks and feels good, but doesn’t attach as firmly to the shuffle’s body as we would have liked. On the very bright side, we couldn’t get it to come off by shaking the case, but it detaches quickly on touch. We prefer Speck’s decision to include this cap to Griffin’s decision to omit one, but wish it was a little sturdier.
The last major issue to note is the case’s headphone port, which like most iPod hard cases is on the very small side - appropriate only for Apple’s headphones and similarly small headphone plugs. Consequently, don’t plan to use third-party phones with this design.
Overall, Metal iPod Protection is a good case that’s roughly equivalent overall to the options that were previously released for the iPod. All of them are good cases with the same general limitations, and each has a couple of positive and negative twists. This one is best-suited to people who want a USB cap and a strong, full-metal body but don’t mind constantly wiping fingerprints off of a case.