Price: AUD $49.95 (US $36.00)
Compatible: iPod 3G
STM Cocoon case
Pros: Looks great, feels great, protects iPod perfectly for most travel purposes, includes both hard and soft cases that fit any iPod.
Cons: Top and bottom holes aren’t zipperable, so it’s not fully protective.
Here’s a great product that we haven’t seen in a United States store yet: in the “larger protective iPod case category,” Australia-based luggage maker STM’s Cocoon case for the iPod succeeds where Monster’s iCase went overboard. Without dramatically expanding the iPod’s footprint, the Cocoon wraps a third-generation iPod in two layers of protection, one lightweight for general use and the second hard and substantial for traveling.
Each Cocoon package includes two plastic iPod sheathes (“STM iPod skins”) with detachable lanyard necklaces, one for 10/15/20GB third-generation iPods and one for 30/40GB versions. Your iPod slips easily into a sheathe, which protects the screen but leaves exposed the buttons and Scroll Wheel, ports and dock connector. On the back of each sheathe is a white Velcro patch.
Then there’s the Cocoon itself, a professional-looking dual-zippered grey hard shell that opens to reveal a Velcro patch on one side and a mesh net on the other. The sheathed iPod attaches to the interior Velcro patch while the mesh net offers enough space for headphones and a remove control. When zipped up, the Cocoon’s top and bottom include holes for iPod headphone and port connectivity, limiting the unit’s resilience to weather conditions but providing substantial protection against other types of damage. A non-detachable belt clip on the back of the cocoon feels solid, yet is just large enough to suit belt-mounters’ needs without excessively bulking up the case.
Overall, the Cocoon looks and feels great - it’s as close to a perfect travel case for the iPod as we’ve seen to date. If it becomes available at the lower end of its Australian street price window (under US $30) in the United States, we would recommend it as a must-purchase item for any iPod user on the road.
Added 6/2005: Subsequent to our original review, STM updated the Cocoon with two changes: currently shipping units include two different sleeves for fourth-generation iPods and iPod photos (20 and 40/60) rather than third-generation iPods, and now use a matte gray exterior instead of the earlier metallic one.
The first three new pictures above show the updated Cocoon and those sleeves, which are not designed to fit older iPods or the iPod mini. STM now also sells a separate “Mini Skin” for use with the standard Cocoon and iPod mini, depicted in the fourth picture above. This clear vinyl case is identical in design to the 3G and 4G iPod versions, except for its use of a clear plastic tube lanyard rather than a flat gray fabric one, and its lack of a Velcro patch on the rear. We do not recommend the inner cases for use without the Cocoon, but they work well with it.
There’s also a smaller version of the Cocoon called the Mini Cocoon (iLounge rating: A) for people who are only interested in carrying the iPod mini around. As of today, all of these products are distributed in the United States by RadTech.