Review: Tunewear Icewear shuffle
Pros: Highly professional attention to detail and unique design in a silicone rubber iPod shuffle case - one of the very best designs we’ve seen.
Cons: Limited lanyard cap and rear switch protection; can have “wet” look inside case.
The best rating we could give under our old rating system was “Excited,” a suggestion that we were so genuinely impressed by an iPod or accessory that we’d go out of our way to recommend it to people. As we see a lot of iPod accessories, few truly excite us that much. Tunewear’s new Icewear shuffle ($14.95) is one of them.
We’ve now tested several generations of Icewear cases - first for the iPod mini (iLounge rating: B) and then for the 4G iPod (iLounge rating: B+), and we actually felt bad about having to give those cases less than our top recommendations. Tunewear’s decision to use ribbed silicone rubber rather than flat rubber or plastic was extremely stylish, and we really liked the way the Icewear cases looked on our iPods. But the company made some major compromises on protectiveness that precluded us from wanting to use the cases on a daily basis.
Icewear shuffle has all of the prior products’ good looks without their protectiveness limitations, and even includes a smart new feature specific to the iPod shuffle’s pop-off USB cap design. Tunewear retains its fully transparent, durable rubber material, using its trademark ribs horizontally across the shuffle’s sides and back. The top of the case is flat and thin enough to accommodate both Apple and third-party headphones - even large-plugged ones, though you shouldn’t tug too hard on them - while the front is flat except for two circles. One at top provides a tactile facsimile of the shuffle’s Control Pad, while the one at bottom is for a swirling new Tunewear logo. All in all, Icewear shuffle is very attractive.
The body casing protects all of the iPod shuffle save its rear power switch, which is left exposed, and it’s therefore easy to access both the front and rear controls. While we still give the edge to Power Support’s Silicone Jacket (iLounge rating: A-) on covering the entire shuffle and still making the rear controls accessible, we’re frankly a lot more comfortable with an exposed rear switch than an exposed front on these cases - it’s less visible, and not glossy. Moreover, Tunewear’s ridged back face keeps the switch from being scuffed in drops or otherwise making contact with a flat surface beneath it; the only thing you’ll need to worry about is scratch damage from car keys or other items in a pocket or bag.
Tunewear’s smartest design innovation is a tiny one. A miniature ball bearing chain links Icewear’s body casing to one of two included USB cap guards; you pop it open or closed to switch between caps, and they’re held on loosely to the iPod shuffle’s body. Therefore, you have no risk of losing your cap when using this case - a better implementation of an idea we’ve seen others try without as much success.
The caps vary in protectiveness. One for the standard USB cap is fully protective, while the one for the lanyard exposes the upper portion of the lanyard cap. This small protectiveness omission is also fine in our view since the lanyarded shuffle is meant for wearing on the neck, where scratches to that top surface are unlikely. If you want better protection, use the standard USB cap.
Only two minor issues are worth noting. The silicone used by Tunewear can leave a “wet” look at places on your iPod’s body, which some people mind more than others. We really don’t mind it, as it’s so common in silicone cases, but we note it for those who care. Additionally, because of Icewear’s strong rubber, it’s a bit more of a tug to get onto the shuffle than the typical silicone case, but once it’s on, you’ll probably want to leave it on there anyway.
We were deciding between A and A- ratings for this product until we considered the price - $14.95 - which frankly is exactly where we think iPod shuffle rubber cases should be priced. If Power Support’s Silicone Jacket was sold at this price level, it would have rated a flat A in our book, but instead it makes the attractive and innovative Icewear shuffle look like a major bargain. Because it’s not 100% protective, Icewear shuffle isn’t the perfect A+ iPod shuffle case, but it’s very close - and a superb value for iPod shuffle owners.