Pros: A silky-smooth thin silicone case with an accurate fit and a nice screen protector offered at a relatively low cost.
Cons: Generic (though elegant) looks; Dock connector unprotected; Thin silicone offers little drop protection.
Prior silicone Soft Jacket cases from Hong Kong-based PDA accessory maker Capdase have been universally simple, yet generally affordable, elegant, and well-made. This brief description suits their latest Soft Jacket – designed for the 5G iPod – perfectly.
The “Soft Jacket for fifth generation iPod” is a thin, simple, silicone skin-style case available in custom sizes for both 30GB and 60GB iPod models. In each size, a total of 6 colors are available. Five of these options (white, grey, green, orange, and blue) are “frosted,” or semi-translucent, and the final color is a completely opaque black.
Fit, Feel, and Coverage
We’ve always liked the smooth, silky feel of Capdase’s silicone material, and the 5G Soft Jacket is no exception: it feels great to the touch. Additionally, the smoothness also reduces the amount of lint and dust picked up by the case dramatically, relative to other skin-style cases on the market.
We found the Soft Jacket to fit precisely on the iPod’s body, with all ports lining up accurately. The excellent fit and well-finished edges combined with the Soft Jacket’s thin, silky silicone give it an elegant look and feel.
On top of the Soft Jacket, the hold switch is covered with a thinner layer of silicone, and it remains usable with a fingernail. The headphone port is accessible, and the hole is plenty large enough for oversized third-party headphone plugs.
The iPod’s Click Wheel is covered with a thinner layer of silicone, and remains completely usable without any problems.
The dock connector port, however, is left unprotected full-time, an omission in protection some may not like. However, should this not be a concern of yours, know that the opening is large enough for third-party accessories with dock connector plugs larger than Apple’s, such as Belkin’s AutoKit.
Because the Soft Jacket’s silicone is only about 1 millimeter thick, its screen protector is anchored underneath a raised ridge of silicone. The fit around the screen was both accurate and tight, and we had no concerns that the screen protector may come loose.
The screen protector itself is highly similar to that found in Speck Products’ recent FunSkin cases (iLounge rating: B, B-), in that it is made from hard plastic and lined around the perimeter with a thin rim of silicone, to prevent scratches on the iPod’s face caused by the screen protector’s inevitable sliding motion. Unlike Speck’s screen protectors, the protective rim of silicone on the SoftJacket’s screen protectors are not color-coordinated with the case (they’re all white), but it looks fine.
With the fifth-generation iPod’s increased screen-centric focus brought on by its video features, iLounge is giving increased attention to the clarity of the screen protectors we receive for review. In this regard, Capdase’s screen protector passes without complaint: it was both clear and distortion-free.
Belt Clip and Hand Strap
Capdase includes a wonderfully substantial-feeling belt clip assembly in either white or black color. Two halfs of a slim, sturdy plastic stub screw together, pinning the back of the silicone case between them for mounting. This stub then slides and locks into the belt clip itself, and allows the case to rotate freely. A button on the bottom side of the clip releases the stub and case. Generally speaking, the whole assembly feels great, made from high quality plastic and making affirmative-feeling connections.
Should you plan to mount the Soft Jacket horizontally on your belt, you’ll have no problems. However, if you prefer to clip the iPod vertically, the stub’s position in the exact center of the iPod’s back side may prove awkward, as the iPod’s weight tends to pull at the Soft Jacket’s thin silicone backing, making the iPod lean a bit forward. While we were impressed with the quality feel of the belt clip assembly itself, perhaps it just isn’t well suited to a thin silicone case carrying a fairly heavy device.
If you’d rather not use a belt clip at all, the stub can be removed completely, leaving only a small hole less than a quarter inch in diameter.
Also included with each Soft Jacket is a well-made leather hand strap with metal hinge, which connects to the Soft Jacket by looping a small cord through a silicone eyelet near the case’s bottom-right corner. While we’d never carry our iPods like this ourselves, the solution is a nice optional touch, and appears sufficiently well-designed.
Value and Conclusions
The Soft Jacket for 5G iPod can be found for the online at Capdase’s authorized online reseller, Vinko’s Treasures, for what appears to be a delightfully low price of $11. Relatively large international shipping charges bring this case to a total cost close to $20, but even so, the case has a significant price advantage over the recent offerings from both iSkin and Speck, which sell for $34.95 + shipping. If you’re looking for a simple, sleek soft case to protect your iPod from scratches, the Capdase Soft Jacket is undoubtedly an excellent, affordable option.
Due to its mostly generic design and light protection, we’re awarding this our “B+” grade: it’s a solid, affordable, recommendable case, but many users may want to pay a bit more for better protection or a less generic look.
Company and Price
Price: $11 (+ $8.29 Shipping)
Compatible: iPod 5G (with video)