Review: Speck SkinTight for iPod shuffle
Pros: Highly attractive soft plastic iPod shuffle case that provides excellent third-party headphone access while protecting almost all of the shuffle’s body. Includes own spare shuffle USB cap and cap cover.
Cons: Doesn’t work with Apple’s lanyard USB cab, doesn’t protect iPod shuffle’s rear power switch at all, pricey.
We’ll come right out and say it: Speck’s SkinTight case for the iPod shuffle ($19.95) is one of the nicest-looking shuffle cases we’ve seen. Because of one major design decision, some people are going to find it impractical, and because of its price, others are going to skip it in favor of something cheaper, but if you can live with these two issues, you’re going to like it.
As with its earlier iPod cases, Speck uses Kraton plastic - a harder than rubber but softer than hard plastic material - to attractively frost the entire shuffle body save three holes. The rear power switch is left open to give you a place to insert the Shuffle. The USB plug pokes out a small hole in the bottom. And a contoured hole is left for headphones. That’s it.
Inside the case, the overall look is excellent, and we underscore that word: SkinTight offers a nice thick layer of plastic that looks especially good in translucent tones, just like Power Support’s top-of-class Silicone Jackets. We tested Speck’s pink and clear translucents, as well as a jet black that is barely see-through; we liked clear the best, but the pink wasn’t bad, either. The company will also sell green, blue, and red cases in the near future.
What about the USB caps? Because of the case’s thickness and design, Apple’s caps won’t fit. On the bright side, Speck provides a standard USB cap of its own, and a matching rubber holder for it - when they’re attached to your encased iPod shuffle, the look is complete and truly superb.
But there’s one problem. Speck doesn’t provide a lanyard cap, and Apple’s won’t attach to the shuffle when it’s inside of Speck’s case. Oops. So unlike the Silicone Jacket, you just can’t wear your shuffle as a necklace when it’s in the SkinTight case. If you can live with this limitation, you’re most likely to be a fan of Speck’s design.
On the bright side, a shuffle inside of SkinTight can still fit into your computer’s USB port, and it’s very easy to access and see the shuffle’s controls. This is true even in the jet black case, which allows the lights to shine through the Skin. And the company has left enough room at its headphone port for both Apple and all of the oversized third-party headphones we tested to work. We were very happy to see this, too.
However, unlike most of the rubber cases we’ve seen, Speck’s decision to permit insertion and removal through the case’s back hole rather than its bottom has consequences - no rear switch protection, and arguably over-aggressive bottom protection that’s not needed so long as you keep your shuffle’s cap on. Though the design has the benefit of attractively double-frosting plastic around the USB plug, as you can see from the photos, we’d have preferred Speck go with the more conventional open-bottom design, protecting the shuffle’s full back and allowing Apple’s caps to work as well.
Overall, Speck’s SkinTight case for the iPod shuffle has a lot in common with the Power Support Silicone Jacket we’ve liked so much - they’re both attractive, premium-priced cases that have some smart ideas, and issues that will be of concern to specific audiences. Because it’s not as comprehensively protective as the Silicone Jacket, can’t be used with the lanyard USB cap, and doesn’t include a clip or other packed-in premium, we rate the SkinTight a notch below the Silicone Jacket, but if these aren’t issues for you, we have no hesitation recommending it as a worthy way to protect and upscale your iPod shuffle.
Jeremy Horwitz is Editor-in-Chief of iLounge.