Though Apple’s devices have been on an almost uninterrupted thinning kick for the past four years, there are times when smaller isn’t necessarily better. Compare for instance the iPod touch and the iPhone, the latter of which uses its thicker body to house a more powerful speaker, a microphone, and a camera; even if you put these feature differences aside, there’s something about the iPhone’s shape and heft that make it a little more comfortable for gaming. Marware was the first company to attempt a case-styled grip expansion for gamers, but Game Grip was overpriced and overdesigned. Now DLO is trying a different approach with Jam Jacket Game ($20), available only for the second-generation iPod touch.
Rather than trying to make this slim device wider, taller, or crazier-looking, Jam Jacket Game goes for neutrality and functionality. From the side, it looks like half of a black bone, its black silicone rubber covering literally every bit of the iPod touch save for its screen, Home button, Dock Connector port and headphone port. A clear screen protector is included to handle the screen, while the Sleep/Wake button and volume controls are all covered with play-through rubber. That makes Jam Jacket Game one of the most protective cases we’ve tested, and due to the design of its bottom, it’s fully compatible with Universal Docks and any virtually pair of headphones you may have.
What’s new to this design are rear grips—these are the parts of the case that make it look like a bone from the side. They bulge out from the top and bottom of the back, with curves that extend a little beyond the black bars at the top and bottom of the iPod touch’s screen, and humps that peak closer to the centers of those bars. Based on this design, your thumbs naturally rest on the bars when the iPod’s in widescreen orientation, with your other fingers curled around its back; in vertical orientation, your fingers and palm come to rest between the grips in a soft groove. The case also includes a large detachable rubber wrist strap reminiscent of the fabric ones bundled with Wii controllers.
From an aesthetic standpoint, we have only one issue with Jam Jacket Game, namely that it has a cool-looking, grippy rear that unfortunately does collect and show dust due to the case’s black coloration and recessed box-based texture. It’s offset by the case’s in-hand comfort, which brings the iPod touch to a size that’s similar to the iPhone 3G’s, save for the protruding grips, which feel quite nice in the hand.
But will the grips actually do anything to improve your gaming? We don’t have especially sweaty hands, so for us, the answer is “only a little,” and that’s to make the touch feel somewhat more solid and less slippery when it’s being played for extended periods of time. Users with sweatier hands or problems dealing with the iPod touch’s smooth curved sides may like it even more than we did; those with the unfortunate tendency to hurl their gaming controllers around may even find the strap to be a lifesaver at some point, though it doesn’t have any tightening mechanism to keep itself more than loosely on your wrist.
Overall, at a time when silicone rubber cases have become highly commoditized, Jam Jacket Game is a standout—a very good $20 option that offers nearly comprehensive protection, neutral styling, and at least some extra functionality for its target users without compromising most dock or headphone compatibility. If you’ve had no issue with holding your iPod touch during gaming sessions, it’s obviously not a mandatory or life-changing accessory, but for those who seek better grip within a practical, affordable shell, it’s a winner.
Company and Price
Company: Digital Lifestyle Outfitters (DLO)
Model: Jam Jacket Game
Compatible: iPod touch 2G