Pros: A fully protective, fairly thin yet resilient silicone rubber case for the iPod shuffle, complete with an included lanyard, lanyard cap, and headphone cord clips.
Cons: Clips and lanyard aren’t great, colors we saw were muted, price including shipping is comparable to superior options.
[Editor’s Note (6-3-05): Following our review, the vendor lowered the price of the Soft Jacket offerings by around $1.30, and we’ve noted the change in our review.]
Third-party iPod shuffle cases have improved quite a bit since the first ones began to appear a few months ago, though the differences aren’t as apparent in photographs as they are when you handle them in person. Capdase’s new Soft Jacket Value Set for iPod shuffle (approx. $7.00, plus $8.29 shipping from Hong Kong) is a prime example: though virtually identical to silicone rubber cases released by Pacific Rim Technologies and Pods Plus some months ago, the new Soft Jacket actually feels better, thanks to what appears to be a slightly better grade of rubber.
In slightly off-kilter English, the Soft Jacket’s box notes that the product features “amazing soft with the greatest protection,�? an attempt to explain that the case is amazingly soft and offers comprehensive protection of the iPod shuffle’s body. This much is definitely true: the Soft Jacket has a silky texture and covers every part of the iPod shuffle’s body, including the front and rear controls. Unlike many competing products, it uses tactile dots rather than icons to represent the shuffle’s front controls, and there’s a small Capdase logo printed on the case’s bottom rear surface.
Capdase offers eight colors of Soft Jackets: pink, blue, orange, black, green, dark blue, purple and white, all “frosted.” The two Jackets we received were pink and white, and the pink one was pretty close to the white one in color – the difference was subtle. At least as they’ve been photographed, other colors appear to be more distinctive.
For a thin case, we liked the Soft Jacket’s overall protection and feel. It’s fairly easy to use all of the iPod’s front controls, though the rear switch is a small struggle to use in the same way that all fully protective cases save Power Support’s Silicone Jacket have been. Because of its use of good rubber, Capdase’s design is a step or two better than the Pods Plus and Pacific Rim offerings on feel and resilience, but then it’s likely to be a bit more expensive when importing costs are taken into account. Even with price taken into account, we still prefer the feel of the more expensive offerings from both Power Support and Tunewear overall.
A matching standard USB cap cover is included in each package, as is a replacement lanyard USB cap and matching cover. The Soft Jacket’s “Value Set” designation comes from the fact that it includes one of Capdase’s fabric white and reflective silver lanyards, plus four headphone clips for the price. Alternately, Capdase sells two-packs of Soft Jackets without the lanyard or headphone clips for about the same price.
The lanyard’s okay. It’s a two-piece attachment that separates near its bottom with a white plastic clip, allowing you to remove the shuffle with its cap intact while continuing to wear the necklace. You probably won’t want to; the flat fabric design isn’t especially stylish, and is far more conspicuous than Apple’s packed-in lanyard.
Its only advantage to some users is its integration with the headphone clips, which are simple pieces of white plastic that can be attached to any part of the lanyard, then to your headphone cable. The idea of integrating headphone cord management into the lanyard isn’t necessarily a bad one, but we didn’t find it especially useful.
As we’ve noted before on certain Capdase products, the only factor that really hurts the Soft Jacket Value Set’s rating is the final price when shipping expenses are taken into account. At its $7 retail asking price, it would be very easy to ignore the so-so lanyard and gimmicky clips for a case that does a good job of protecting the iPod. However, once all associated costs are taken into consideration, the Soft Jacket’s close to the same price as buying a Tunewear Icewear case (amongst others), which allows you to use your original lanyard and has other appealing features. The Soft Jacket is a good product, and one worth recommending by comparison with other thin rubber competitors, but as with all of Capdase’s offerings, it could be helped tremendously by enhanced distribution and/or cheaper shipping options.
Company and Price
Model: Soft Jacket Value Set
Price: $8.33 (+ shipping), Available at shop.vinko.com
Compatible: iPod shuffle