With the holidays rapidly approaching, a number of companies have rushed to release new cases for the iPod touch, and not surprisingly, there are a lot of similarities between the latest options. Today, we’re looking at eight new iPod touch cases, four made from transparent hard plastic, two from softer silicone rubber, and two from metal.
All eight cases start from the same place: they all cover the majority of the iPod touch’s sides and back, almost all of its face aside from its screen and Home button, and part of its top. Each one leaves part of touch’s bottom open, and provides some direct access for light to reach its brightness sensor. And they all try aggressively to complement the iPod touch’s thinness rather than radically thickening it with additional material.
Consequently, none of these cases would accurately be described as “bulky.”
Of the collection, the two that impressed us the most were DLO’s VideoShell for iPod touch ($20) and HybridShell for iPod touch ($25), two cases that combine good looks with great protection and a novel feature. Both designs protect the iPod touch with two snap-together hard plastic front and rear pieces, plus a full face protector made from clear film. The film goes on first, then the front shell, then the rear shell, locking the iPod inside a case that feels sturdy but light and only as thick as is necessary.
Much of our praise concerns two protectiveness innovations DLO has come up with: a Sleep/Wake button cover and a Home button cover, both integrated into these cases’ shells, both made from depressable hard plastic, and both nearly as responsive as rubber covers we’ve seen on some of our favorite iPod touch cases. These button covers make both VideoShell and HybridShell more protective than 90% of the touch cases we’ve tested, and though the Sleep/Wake button cover is a little less sensitive than we’d prefer, we’d call the issue minor given the benefits of the protection.
Where VideoShell and HybridShell differ substantially is in their rear casings.
HybridShell sports a unique grip-ready silicone dot pattern on the back, which DLO offers in black or gray, each dot piercing the case’s hard plastic rear. We liked the way this looked and felt from moment one, as it adds a little extra grip to the touch’s otherwise slippery metallic back, and the dots are a cool new way of accomplishing this. Given the case’s other features, we initially thought DLO had come close to the ideal iPod touch case design with HybridShell.
Then we saw VideoShell, which does two things better: it’s $5 less expensive, and includes a slide-out rear kickstand that is designed to let you turn iPod touch on its side for easy widescreen video viewing. The kickstand is ingeniously designed to slide in and out of VideoShell’s back without adding any thickness to the rear shell; it does the trick perfectly.