Pros: Seriously cool clear sticker idea that provides a piece-by-piece covering for virtually your entire iPod shuffle, including its lanyard and USB caps. Inexpensive, too.
Cons: Because of light adhesive and iPod shuffle’s glossy surface, stickers may be loose quickly after installation, and are far more likely to fall off the shuffle over a short period of time than traditional cases.
Initially, the iPod accessory industry’s reaction to the iPod shuffle was mixed: while some companies immediately started work on new cases and electronic attachments, others said that they would sit the shuffle out. After all, they explained, who needs a case for a $99 iPod? And will anyone be willing to spend 1/3 or 1/2 the cost of a shuffle to add something on to it?
Evidently, there are more companies in the first camp than the second, because we’ve started to receive all sorts of interesting prototype protectors for the shuffle. The first actually reviewable product we’ve received is from Capdase, a Hong Kong-based maker of PDA and iPod accessories, and it’s actually a very simple idea: clear iPod shuffle protective stickers called SkinGuard (approx. $5.00). Capdase has made screen and Wheel protectors for earlier generation iPods, thus expansion of the concept was easy: take a single piece of clear film, cut it so that its pieces can be used to cover the shuffle’s body, and sell it for under $10.
At first, the idea generally works. Obsessive iPod fans will even enjoy attaching the stickers: Capdase has cut individual stickers that match each of the iPod shuffle’s curves, and in applying them, you basically assemble a transparent shuffle one side at a time. And then you do the USB cap. And the lanyard cap.
If you have nimble fingers, good luck, and a perfectly clean iPod, it comes out pretty well, though you’ll need to work small air bubbles out of the stickers. If not, the stickers will prove a bit tricky to apply, and when you’re done, you may well have slight sticker edge overhang in need of correction. Thankfully, the adhesive isn’t even slightly gooey, and the stickers come off easily for replacement if need be.
iPod coverage isn’t perfect, but it’s close. The play/pause button sticker was tricky to align, and neither the shuffle’s control ring nor the front sides next to it are covered; the battery indicator isn’t, and the top sides immediately next to the headphone port aren’t, either. Finally, the sides of the rear power switch indicating “on” or off” are exposed, as well. But these are very small areas, and as a general rule the SkinGuard stickers cover virtually everything that’s glossy and white on the shuffle’s body and caps.
There are two major benefits of the SkinGuard solution to iPod shuffle protection: the stickers are so thin that you can easily use the protected shuffle with all of its peripherals, including Apple’s iPod shuffle Armband, which uses such a tight mounting solution that thicker casings won’t work with it. And of course, your shuffle looks just like a shuffle from a distance. So far, this is the only iPod protector we’ve ever seen that doesn’t look like anything’s attached.
But there’s a major consequence. Because the shuffle uses glossy plastic and Capdase hasn’t used aggressive adhesives, the stickers don’t stay on for long. We originally thought that Capdase’s parts would be likely to peel off all at once after a month or two, but their edges became loose after only a couple of days – especially in the parts that we had to reposition. To avoid this, your shuffle will need to be very clean at all angles when you start, and you’ll have to position the stickers precisely, or they’ll start to peel almost immediately. They’ll stay on – albeit only partially – until the adhesive or edges are pushed too far.
All in all, the SkinGuard iPod shuffle stickers are a good idea that won’t be practically great for typical iPod users. If you have low expectations for your iPod protection, and don’t mind the prospect of quick sticker peeling, give the SkinGuard a try – it’s a cheap enough option that some people won’t mind experimenting. Otherwise, wait for the next round of shuffle cases – they’ll be more expensive and thicker, but they won’t fall off so quickly.
Jeremy Horwitz is Editor-in-Chief of iLounge.
Company and Price
Model: SkinGuard for iPod shuffle
Price: Approx. $5.00, available at shop.vinko.com
Compatible: iPod shuffle