As iPod cases have become too numerous to even count, fewer stand out from the pack as examples of good or even interesting design. Design house Harodesign, makers of the Axio line of bags, previously released a series of me-too, PDA style iPod cases that were eye-catching only because of their artwork. Thankfully, the company went back to the drawing board for two new and substantially more distinctive case designs: Deluxe and Thump, the former capsule reviewed here.
Unlike Thump, the Deluxe cases for iPod 5G ($30) and iPod nano ($25) continue the artistic heritage of earlier Axio cases, offering iPod owners the ability to add print-quality graphics to the front of 5G and nano models without the visual compromises required when art is placed on rubber or fabric. The company has developed a novel two-piece case design, the first part a silicone rubber body shell that wraps around the iPod’s top, bottom, sides, and back, and the second a thin but hard clear plastic shell that covers the iPod’s screen and face, except for its Click Wheel.
This clear shell provides a place for the company to permanently mount a sticker – yellow techno-camouflage and orange or green robot versions for guys, “Stars & Hearts” or Hibiscus flower patterns for girls – or just leave the space “blank,” revealing the iPod’s original face color. You can’t pull the graphics off the front shell, but you can swap in other shell faces if you like; the company describes Deluxe as offering a “replaceable” shell feature.
We really liked the look and feel of the Deluxe cases – at least as much as Thump – as the front graphics are cool, and accented by silver-colored lines in the side of each white or black rubber rear casing. An Axio logo – sometimes gray, sometimes silver – is on each case, and like Thump, the nano version includes a small hole at bottom right for attachment to a wrist strap, if you have one. The hole isn’t going to tear at the rubber, either; the rubber is thick and durable enough to withstand common tugs, as well as light drops onto the floor. It’s worth only a brief note that the 5G rubber casing you’ll buy will be made only for a 30GB or 60GB iPod, not both.
Though there are many positives in this design, there were a couple of issues here that knocked our ratings down a bit. The plastic on Deluxe’s front shell is easy to scuff – enough so that one of our 5G cases was showing marks almost immediately after its first use – though the issue is mostly noticeable on totally clear parts, such as the screen guard, and the rest of the “blank” cases’ faces.
Additionally, though Harodesign opted for a slightly more protective bottom on these cases than on Thump, creating form-fit Dock Connector and headphone port holes on both Deluxe versions, the Dock Connector ports are both large enough only for Apple’s and equivalently small cables, and the headphone port on the nano case is too small for oversized headphone plugs – an issue which deducted an extra point from our 9 rating below. Thankfully, this latter issue doesn’t affect the 5G case, which handled larger headphone connectors without an issue.
There are two other holes on each Deluxe case – parallel slits on the back for insertion of a belt, if you want to wear them around. Identically sized and shaped on the 5G and nano cases, these holes wisely attempt to minimize the amount of iPod back that’s exposed to potential scratch damage, but as with all such designs we’ve seen, keys, coins, and other objects can easily slip inside if you toss the case into a pocket or bag.
Overall, we preferred the less expensive but almost equally protective Thump to the more complex and artsy Deluxes, but it would be hard to go wrong with either design if you like the way these cases look. As with Thump, we hope that Harodesign will continue to work on the protectiveness of future cases – Click Wheel protection would be a nice step up – but until then, we continue to think that these cases are distinctive, visually well-conceived, and recommendable.
Company and Price
Company: Axio by Harodesign
Compatible: iPod nano, 5G