The iPod case market has reached a point of near-saturation: as we’ve noted in prior reviews, not only do the cases increasingly look alike and come from the same manufacturers, but they also are so similar in features and pricing that there are only small reasons to prefer one to another. Belkin’s new Remix Metal cases for iPod nano ($25) and iPod classic ($30) may have a lot in common with other plastic designs we’ve previously reviewed, but they also have a couple of twists: cool-looking metal front facades and integrated clear Click Wheel protectors.
As it turns out, Remix Metal for the iPod nano is virtually the same case as Tunewear’s earlier Tuneshell, an entirely clear $20 case that rated a flat B—Belkin has its own version of this all-clear case called Remix Acrylic. Belkin has added its own name to the back of the Tunewear case, which used a large plastic rear shell and a simple flat front shell that interlocked along the front edge, and covered most of the clear front plastic with a piece of metal that has record groove-like concentric circles emanating from the Click Wheel. Belkin calls the metal “black;” to our eyes, it looks dark silver.
The iPod classic version of Remix Metal uses almost the same concept, though we haven’t seen another clear plastic case for the classic with the exact same design. Here, you get two rear shells in sizes appropriate to the 80GB and 160GB iPod classics, with just a little padding inside to prevent rear iPod scuffing, and a front plate with a nano-like thin layer of stamped metal on the front. Our sample featured Belkin’s recent honeycomb pattern as a design, rather than the circle grooves of the nano version; it’s possible that both patterns will be available for both iPod models. Pink, black, or silver versions of the classic’s honeycomb face are available.
In short, we really liked both versions of Remix Metal because of their looks and protectiveness, and have only small reservations overall. Despite the fact that they ideally cover the iPod’s full face, back, and sides, each case offers uninhibited access to the iPods’ headphone ports, Hold switches, and Dock Connector—the nano version through the bottom, and the iPod classic version through both top and bottom holes. Belkin’s cut the holes and cases to permit full Universal Dock compatibility—a major benefit—and the use of any type of headphone plug you may prefer to connect. The classic version’s bottom is a little thick for connection of certain large accessories, such as portable FM transmitters, but the nano version’s fully compatible, and both bottoms are friendly to cable-style Dock Connector accessories. It bears brief mention that Belkin’s Click Wheel covers don’t inhibit iPod control use at all, though the classic case is inked a little to slightly obscure the Wheel’s labels; we didn’t mind.
The cases’ only issues are minor. At a time when some other cases are moving forward in offering superior functionality, the Belkin designs provide no video stands, belt clips, or other rear features; the nano version has the same lanyard-ready holes as Tunewear’s Tuneshell, but like the classic case, doesn’t come with a lanyard or other pack-ins. And they are a little pricey for relatively simple cases, given that you’re basically buying a typical clear hard shell with a simple metal piece glued on for superior aesthetics, and lacking the sort of part-time port and bottom protection that some of our other favorite cases include for the price.
In truth, we don’t mind. Both versions look really sharp, work with most of the popular accessories out there, and do better at iPod face protection—thanks to the integrated Click Wheel covers—than typical clear cases. At list price, both versions were on the edge of our B+ and A- ratings, but we went with the higher rating and our high recommendation because we so rarely find cases with fronts that are as interestingly designed as these.
Company and Price
Model: Remix Metal
Compatible: iPod classic