In the early days of iPod cases, hard plastic was far from the most common available material: developers found it hard to precisely match Apple’s curves, and used softer fabric and rubber designs instead. Today, thanks to sophisticated 3-D modeling and molding techniques, iPods and iPhones alike are routinely encased in shells made mostly from hard plastics. We’re briefly reviewing seven very different options today for the iPod nano, classic, touch, and iPhone 3G, and if you read all of their reviews, you’ll see that there are huge differences in their approaches to protection and value for the dollar. This review covers Griffin’s Nu Form for iPod touch 2G ($25).
Unquestionably inspired by Incase’s earlier Slider Case for iPhone, Griffin came up with Nu Form for iPhone 3G, a two-piece shell that’s designed to slide its bottom off for easy use with docks. Like the earlier Nu Forms, the bottom shell is made from matte soft touch rubber, while the top is made from matte plastic with a pixel-like grid of art on the back side. Unlike the first Nu Form, this one is sold only in a single color combination: gray with black art on the top, and black on the bottom.
As we noted in the first Nu Form review, the very premise of the slide-off bottom has become questionable due to a big difference between the original iPhone and its successors: Apple no longer includes the iPhone Dock that used to all but require a slide-off bottom piece, so the only people who actually need such a feature are those who buy Apple’s separately sold iPhone 3G Dock or other completely form-fitting, zero-tolerance bottom-connecting accessories.
Today, there’s another big difference: the second-generation iPod touch doesn’t have any of those accessories, so a case with properly designed headphone port and Dock Connector holes in its bottom wouldn’t need a slide-off bottom shell at all. Unfortunately, the key words here are “properly designed.” Griffin has sized the second-generation iPod touch version of Nu Form’s headphone and Dock Connector port holes to fit Apple’s tiny connectors, but it won’t work with ones that are much larger. As such, you might find that you need to pull off the bottom shell just to get Nu Form to work with bigger headphones or other plugs you might be using, something that isn’t an issue with most other Griffin or competitive cases.
This was a design mistake, offset by only one other factor: its protectivity. A screen protector and cleaning cloth are included in the package, the former enabling Nu Form to cover just as much of the iPod touch as products such as DLO’s VideoShell—only the top, side, and Home buttons are exposed, along with the headphone and Dock Connector ports. Overall, Nu Form is thus better than par in device coverage, which may help its appeal with some users.
From our standpoint, however, Nu Form is on the fine edge of B and B- ratings—a contrast with the similar Elan Form, which uses the same general shape, but adds a nice leather coating that distinguishes that design from peers. Nu Form is a nice enough looking case, but there are many other hard plastic cases out there, and neither its looks nor its accessory compatibility give it any advantage over peer products that sell for the same or lower prices. We go with the flat B, general-level recommendation largely because of the case’s protectiveness, but users of anything other than Apple’s headphones and cables should certainly consider more convenient options instead.
Company and Price
Company: Griffin Technology
Model: Nu Form
Compatible: iPod touch 2G