Does the iPod shuffle need protection?

Does the iPod shuffle need protection? 1

The debate began only minutes after Apple introduced the iPod shuffle this past January: does a $99 or $149 iPod really need a case? Will people care about protecting an iPod that’s as close to “disposable” as Apple’s ever sold?

From day one, our assumption was this: just as was the case with earlier iPods, some people will care, and other people won’t. And we also guessed that early iPod adopters would scoff at the idea of protecting such relatively inexpensive iPods: after all, cases were made to protect major ($250-$600) investments, not small ($100-$150) investments, right?


Not really. Though the first wave of iPod owners – those who paid $249 and up for their iPods – mightn’t care, there’s a substantial portion of the population that couldn’t afford iPods until the shuffle came along. A very substantial portion. By offering iPods at $99 and $149 price points, Apple dramatically expanded the market for iPods into a pricing category where successful products can see up to ten times their previous sales at $249-$599 prices – new prices that appeal to Walmart customers, impulse buyers, and younger iPod fans whose parents wouldn’t buy them more expensive iPods. Even though it’s considered inexpensive and disposable to someone who dropped $599 on a freshly released iPod photo, the iPod shuffle may be every bit as important and worthy of protection to the person who struggled to save $99 or $149.

(We won’t even get into a discussion of international iPod prices, which in many cases are considerably higher than U.S. prices.)

    There’s more evidence of this reality than we need to highlight, but take a gander at just a few of these iLounge Discussion Forum threads, which give both sides of the debate a chance to air their views:

    iLounge Forums > General iPod Discussion > iPod shuffle > ***caution*** Read Before Using Shuffle

    AndyHDZ from Sunnyvale, California writes: “The shuffle is as close to ‘disposable’ as we are going to get for a mp3 player.”

    and Punkr0x from Buffalo, New York writes: “I wish 99 bucks was ‘disposable’ to me. I’m sure careful not to scuff my shuffle all up.”

    iLounge Forums > General iPod Discussion > iPod shuffle > Shuffle Durability

    Provboy from Manila, Phillippines writes: “My shuffle already has a chip on the edge. and it’s only 3 days old. ouch”

    while iZach from California writes: “mine has a chip too but only cause some dumb girl dropped it on[] asphalt.”

    And finally, there’s iLounge Forums > Problems & Solutions > iPod shuffle > “Oh my god, I got a scratch!”

    Thundergroove from Chicago, IL writes: “does it still play music? how is a scratch going to hurt it?”

    Original poster Brian responds, “It hurts the sexy stylish look of it. No decrease in performance, thank god. I’ll follow what my friend said. At least there is no screen that you have to look at thru scratches, so it doesn’t really matter. You can’t really see the scratches unless you are purposely looking for them anyway.”

    And Mobiuslogic from San Jose, CA adds this experience; “it’s more of a dent than a scratch… landed right on the edge of it and bashed it all in, like an ant took a bite out of it. *sob*” These sorts of comments from our readers are only part of the reason that we strive to provide comprehensive evaluations of iPod shuffle cases, even in light of occasional comments from naysayers that no one should care about protecting such relatively inexpensive iPods. This article, for example, states repeatedly that “[t]he [s]huffle simply does not need protecting,” and accuses Speck of “in effect taking advantage of the hype” by releasing the $19.95 SkinTight, which we rated a B+ overall.


    Of course, we always appreciate honest differences of opinion, and even differences in eyesight, such as the author’s statements that “with the black model I received, I couldn’t see the green status light through the rubber,” and “sounds like a C score at best but in my opinion, it shouldn’t have been made let alone sold.” But obviously, and as the photograph above illustrates, we disagree on all of these points – as well as the underlying premise of the article, which is that it “doesn’t make sense” to “[p]rotect your iPod shuffle.”

    The difference of opinion is actually a small one. Over time, some of our editors have become a lot less scratch-sensitive about their own iPods – photos and shuffles alike – and other than attempting to preserve resale value or keep an iPod pristine for personal or photographic reasons, they aren’t as worried about the occasional scratch or blemish as they once were. But obviously, these personal feelings have little bearing on whether it makes sense for you to protect your iPod against scratches, and we certainly wouldn’t tell you that your investment isn’t worthy of protection if you think that it is.

    At iLounge, we recognize that opinions may vary, and regardless of our own opinions, we always want our readers to have enough factual information to decide whether a product is right or wrong for their personal needs. And we don’t pretend that all of our readers have the same needs: we know that our readers’ lifestyles and budgets hit all points on the spectrum, so it’s rare that we’d ever say a product “shouldn’t have been made let alone sold.” As our Discussion Forum posts clearly show, some people want cases for their iPod shuffles, so we won’t just rate all iPod shuffle cases Cs or Fs on the theory that they’re equally worthless; rather, we highlight the differences between products and always try to point to the best-of-class solutions we’ve seen.

    And since we’ve tested a whole bunch of different shuffle cases (and hundreds of different iPod cases – reviewed or unreviewed), we always add our own comparative opinions to the reviews and assign each product a rating based on all of the similar offerings we’ve seen. That said, we respect the fact that some readers may have good reasons to prefer a case we’ve rated a B+ over a case we’ve rated an A-. Our ratings are our opinions – informed opinions by virtue of access to so many different offerings, but still opinions nevertheless – and so long as we’ve provided you with enough information to make your own informed decision, we think that we’ve done right.

    What do you think? Do you protect your iPod shuffle or leave it to get scratched up? What’s the fair price for an iPod shuffle case? Was our description of Speck’s $19.95 SkinTight as “pricey” fair in your book, or not? Your comments are appreciated. And for more information on the iPod shuffle, check out our All Things iPod shuffle article.

  1. Because of the lack of a screen and moving parts, a case to me isn’t a requirement the way it is with my shuffle’s big brother.

    I’ve decided to let the scratches go, and, after dropping my shuffle down some concrete stairs the other day, I’ve decided it’s pretty resilient. Stil, if an uncased shuffle is resilient, a cased shuffle (particularly in one of those aluminum cases) is practically unbreakable, like Bruce Willis.

  2. I can understand how someone who’s collection only consists of a shuffle would go out of his/her way to protect it; When I was younger, investing in something that cost 99 dollars was definitely something worth protecting.

    However if you own other members of the ipod family, you’d find that the relatively tough exterior and lack of screen may make you feel perhaps less inclined to protect your shuffle, especially considering the vulnerability of the full size Ipod, and to a lesser extent, the mini, to scuffing and scratching.

    That being said, I think $19.95 is quite a bit to pay, especially in relation to the $99 bucks you may have paid for your shuffle, considering that it doesn’t scratch as easily as the polished chrome of the full Ipods. Maybe more similarly stylish yet more cost effective products are the answer.

    Then again, in the world of Ipod accessories, nothing comes cheap.

  3. I dont think it needs protection either, but I know these cases will sell. If they were closer to $5 I might consider getting one, but only one that kept dust and lint out of the power switch. thats one piece that keeps getting dirty and annoys me. I dont understand why all the companies insist on selling 3 packs of cases. Its like something has to cost more than $20 or else they dont want to sell it.

  4. Not all people who buy a case buy it for protection, some like it for cosmetic purposes and to somewhat personalizes their shuffle.

    I used mine bare though…

  5. a case!? completely unnecessary. why would i pay 1/5 the price of the shuffle for a case? it’s only $99. for those that struggle to save that much money, why would it be any easier to save $25 to have a case shipped to them? i, personally, wouldnt pay more than $10 for one.
    the main thing the shuffle needs is a clip (DLO is the best of the three i’ve tried so far). the lanyard is an absolutely rediculous idea. why would you want to show off your ipod around your neck? why would you invite theives to snatch it away? you can’t do any sort of activity without the shuffle bouncing all around. the lanyard’s just a horrible idea.
    IMO, the shuffle doesn’t need a case for a few reasons. aside from the price, there isn’t a screen to scratch, there’s no chrome or metal to scuff, and the white doesnt have the same glossy finish like it’s larger siblings.
    “The shuffle is as close to ‘disposable’ as we are going to get for a mp3 player.”
    ain’t that the truth! and that’s why i love it.

  6. Hell, no.

    But it needs a clip, and, like all portable music devices, could benefit from wire management.

    That’s why I got a Shufflemate, and I love it. It adds functionality, not bulk or unneeded protection.

    And, if you believe “form should follow function”, it’s beautiful, too. 🙂

  7. Pro-case and Proud: I think shuffle cases (that provide full coverage of the button and switch areas) are a great idea and it has nothing to do with scratches.

    I use my shuffle at the gym and the beach and don’t want water, sweat or sand getting in those little crevices. So I ordered a great silicone cover ($10 for 2) off of ebay (seller was “mommysince99”) that is perfect. It covers everything from the cap up while still allowing you to use the power switch and buttons.

  8. What I think Apple should do is have a case in the box for $5-$7 added to the price. I mean; you’re going to buy the shuffle for $99 they should give the case.

  9. I have a 1 gig shuffle and I work in a hospital. I bought the apple case because when I use it at work (and I also do my workouts there in the exercise clinic) I end up wiping down my hands and the case many times a day with anti viral and anti bacterial wipes and spray. I wouldnt want to put that stuff directly on the pod. Also I can take the case off when I use the pod at home and not worry about the germ issue. I realize this is a specialized application but thats why I have one.

  10. Apple should give you a case? As it is with the Ipod mini, they don’t even give you a charger…

    If they were to give you a case, they ought to do it with the rest of the Ipod range, especially the full sized ones which need a case more than any of the others (At least throw in one ipod sock or something!), but considering the prices of accessories (shuffle strap and mini lanyard for $19?!), it is clear where they make their money from…

  11. Some of the arguments here have proved very persuasive so there are situations where any item deserves to be kept clean e.g. the beach. However, I still maintain that this product does not need the everyday protection of the full sized ipods. The shuffle is made from a much more robust material.

  12. Geez, do you think this topic rates a headline on the main page for iPodLounge? An “editorial” on whether the shuffle needs protection. Please! It’s a personal choice and that’s that!

    Running out of things to report on / write about?

  13. Actually, I just make my own “sock” out of a wristband that basketball players wear. Soft and fuzzy, it protects my shuffle very well. Now a bunch of my friends want me to make them one too. Several are willing to pay up to $15 for the case. So there are a lot of people who want cases for their Shuffle. And a lot of these people either have the more expensive iPods or they can afford one but still want a case. So I dont think it has anything to do with financial status of the shuffle being “dispossible.”

  14. I have a 1GB iPod shuffle and i used to protect it from being scratch. But one night, i pull it out from the silicon case and observe it under the lights. I finally find out that there are few tiny scratches on it. Next, i try using iDrops to polish and removes the scratches, no use at all. (Maybe the polishing is not long enough)Thus, i no longer care so much to protect my 1GB iPod shuffle. I am still using my old silicon case to protect it, but i will not spend any more on any items to protect it or to remove scratches. As i think i should spend more on protections for my 30GB iPod photo than my 1GB iPod shuffle.

  15. I got a shuffle to use when working out, riding my bike, running etc. I don’t think the Photo would stand up with that abuse so I looked into a flash player and will use a Photo in other locations. I also bought the apple sports case. I think it is good, it protects the shuffle from sweat, water, sand etc. and it is very easy in use. I also work on bikes and don’t have to wory about touching it with dirty hands as the case is easily cleaned when you take the shuffle out. I think this device is great as I had a lot of other electronic devices like CD-players, radio’s, telephones etc. die on me when I brought them with me excersising.
    So for me the sportscase is ideal! I also can’t understand why a 99euro investment wouldn’t be worth taking care of?

  16. i dont care iPod or mp3 play in general, if its a decent player im going to protect it. i take my ipod (mini) everywhere. its ALWAYS in my pocket waiting to be listened to. im getting a case for it this friday. if i had a shuffle, which i would also always have in my pocket, i would get a case for it. it doesnt matter how vulnerable something is. if i use it alot and its possible to break it, im going to protect it one way or another.

  17. I personally think the iPod Shuffle is fantastic. I’ve a 20gb Color iPod winging it’s way to me direct from Apple right now and I can honestly say that if I were going to get a second iPod it would probably be a Shuffle. It’s the perfect alternative to it’s bigger brother IMO. The Lanyard is a wicked idea and I would use it anytime.

    I think it’s wrong for anyone to say that an iPod Shuffle shouldn’t be protected or it doesn’t need to be. If it’s valuable to someone than them wanting to protect is neither strange or stupid. A Shuffle could be as previous/valuable to a person as your high-end Photo iPod is to you. Think about it. Why shouldn’t people protect something they worked hard for or just plain love? I’m FOR Shuffle protection cases 100%.

  18. i love my ipod shuffle and it does need protection cuz sometimes it gets banged up in your pocket or if you drop it nahmean so it does need it’s share of protective gear it’s like haivng a pet cuz if you love it enough you protect it right? same wit your any type of ipod you may own pay at least $99 to 300$ for it; so u need t it

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *