Review: Xtrememac Bumperz
Price: $19.95 (5-pack)
Compatible: iPod shuffle
Pros: Simple rubber iPod shuffle side guards most compatible with a lanyard- or XtremeMac SuperHook-equipped shuffle. Nice assortment of fifteen colors.
Cons: Must buy in five-packs at a higher starting price than a competing product; doesn’t include anything except the rubber guards for the price. Generally designed to be used with accessories attached, and not the standard USB cap. Very limited protection - not as “serious” as advertised.
Marware pioneered the rubber iPod shuffle edge guard with Sport Grips (iLounge rating: B), and now XtremeMac is offering Bumperz ($19.95), a highly similar concept with a few small twists. Unlike Sport Grips, which cover your shuffle’s standard USB bottom cap, sides, and top, including a carbineer hook and sometimes a silicone lanyard necklace, Bumperz also cover a part of the shuffle’s back but don’t cover most of its USB cap. In fact, Bumperz are not designed to be compatible with the iPod shuffle’s standard USB cap, and are only intended to be used with Apple’s lanyard cap or XtremeMac’s $19.95 SuperHook (iLounge rating: B-), which is sold separately.
On the bright side, Bumperz add a nice splash of color to your iPod shuffle’s sides, don’t inhibit its use with typical headphones, and are fairly affordable. You get a five-pack for $19.95, a better overall and per-unit price than Marware’s $24.95 three-packs of Sport Grips, and XtremeMac’s packs come in colors that will appeal to many people. Bumperz are available in three different bundles - one with muted and more masculine colors, one with brighter and more female colors, and one with neon colors - and each set is pretty good, assuming that you want more than one of what’s in a given box. That said, we preferred Marware’s original strategy of offering a single Sport Grip (with caribineer hook) for $8.95, and note with some dismay that it’s recently raised that price to $9.95, a fact which makes Bumperz you like even more attractive by comparison - assuming you’re willing to bite the bullet and buy five of them.
On a less positive note, if you’re looking for protectiveness - especially the “serious protection” touted on Xtrememac’s web site - there are many better options out there, and we certainly don’t think the Bumperz’ protection is even close to serious. They’re not iPod shuffle cases - at best, they’re shuffle guards, and partial ones at that. The shuffle’s largest glossy white surface (front) is almost entirely exposed, as is a large amount of the back. This mightn’t be a problem if you always use Bumperz with a lanyard, but if it’s attached to the SuperHook, front and back scratching is entirely possible. You’ll get much more serious protection from the company’s TuffWrapz (iLounge rating: A-), or Power Support’s Silicone Jackets (iLounge rating: A-) for that matter, so if protection’s what you’re looking for, look elsewhere. You could even do better with a set of XtremeMac’s Shieldz (iLounge rating: B), in our opinion.
Though we think they’re going to be fun and right for certain people, what made the Bumperz an “ehh” offering in our book was their limited practicality. They’re not designed to be used with the standard USB cap, can’t be clipped unless you buy an expensive clip, and don’t protect the shuffle’s glossy front. We’d sooner spend the same or less money on a single Sport Grip or a set of three Shieldz. Given all the other shuffle guard and case options that are available, Bumperz aren’t a bad idea, but they’re not a really recommendable one either.