Review: i2 Electronics iLOCKr neo Anti-Theft Security Device for iPod

Pros: A metal security device made for one specific iPod model – here, the 30GB fifth-generation iPod – combining a back plate with a detachable combination lock. Provides complete access to all iPod ports and controls while in use; available in five colors.

Cons: Asking price is high considering low degree of iPod protection and better-equipped competitor; rear bracket exposes majority of iPod to possible scratch and drop damage, only allowing the use of adhesive film protectors, which were not included with our review unit. Best used when in presence of iPod’s owner; three-digit combo lock can be popped by determined thief in around 15 minutes. Can’t be used with more than one iPod model.

Review: i2 Electronics iLOCKr neo Anti-Theft Security Device for iPod

This new metal iPod security device includes two pieces: a three-digit combination lock that attaches to your belt, bag, or other object, and an iPod-specific bracket that connects your iPod to the lock. You slip the iPod into the mounting bracket and push the lock through a hole at its bottom, preventing the iPod from being removed unless the lock is, as well. After setting the combination, you’re supposed to shut the lock, spin the dials, and carry your iPod around without fear of snatch-and-run theft.

Separate iLOCKr neo brackets are made for 30GB iPods, iPod nanos, older 20GB models, and iPod minis.

Over the last several weeks, we’ve had the opportunity to test three new iPod security systems, each based on the same general concept: if you want to hang your iPod on your bag but are afraid that someone might snatch it while you’re walking, you buy one of these and enhance your security. Below is our review of i2 Electronics’ iLOCKr neo ($40); reviews of Secure-It’s The PodSafe and Targus’ Mobile Security Lock are posted separately.

Though each of these products sells for the same $40 price, they vary dramatically in design and execution. i2 Electronics is selling iLOCKr neo, which combines an aluminum iPod-sized plate with a metal 3-digit combination lock. You can get iLOCKr in one of five nylon-painted finishes – black, white, green, pink, or camouflage – each of which is glossy, and though unpadded, is unlikely to scratch your iPod while inside. At the moment, the iLOCKr neo we received fits only one iPod model – the 30GB fifth-generation iPod – and physically can’t be used with others. Separate models designed for nanos, older 20GB models, and iPod minis were announced by i2 Electronics, but are not at press time visible on the company’s web site.


Review: i2 Electronics iLOCKr neo Anti-Theft Security Device for iPod

There are a few benefits of the iLOCKr neo design: if you’re a fan of clear iPod protective films such as InvisibleShield’s Full Body Protector, you’ll like that you can place your coated iPod inside and preserve the majority of its look and feel, with complete access to all of its ports and controls.

Metal covers parts of the iPod’s sides, top, and back, but not all of any surface: i2 Electronics has made the bracket minimally intrusive, even leaving a hole in the metal frame to let you see everything from the Apple icon to the unit’s hard drive capacity. Unlike iLOCKr neo’s competitors, you really don’t give up anything by placing the iPod inside.

iLOCKr neo holds the iPod in by using the included lock to obstruct its bottom right corner, freeing the iPod when the lock is detached. We couldn’t bend the frame to remove the iPod with the lock in, nor did we find the lock even slightly malleable; overall, we consider the frame and lock to be as secure as whatever they’re attached to.

Review: i2 Electronics iLOCKr neo Anti-Theft Security Device for iPod

There are a few rather obvious problems. Unlike both of iLOCKr neo’s competitors, iPod protection here is almost necessarily poor – you literally will need to use a protective film from InvisibleShield or a competitor if you want to keep your iPod safe, because the device’s frame precludes the use of any case. In other words, you trade off iPod scratch and drop protection for anti-theft protection, a trade we’d prefer not to make given that an iPod attached to a bag is at least as likely to get scraped against something as it is to be stolen.

Additionally, though the unit’s lock feels sturdy, it looks cheap, and can rub paint off at the intersection point of the lock and frame. Similarly, the three-digit combination lock isn’t going to keep out any safecrackers – if you leave iLOCKr neo unattended for long enough, it can be opened, and fairly easily.