As fans of the iPod, iPhone, and other Apple products, we’re accustomed to paying at least a small premium for design — that portion of a purchase price that goes towards assembling the raw pieces of a given product more thoughtfully and valuably than competitors. By the same token, we’re occasionally infuriated by products that charge big premiums for no good reason. Incase’s Protective Cover for iPod touch 2G ($30) is a prime example of this phenomenon at play.
Last year, we described the first version of the Protective Cover as “one of the least impressive rubber cases we’ve ever seen at a $30 price.” The new iPod touch version is even more offensive in that more than a year has passed since the first case was introduced, and while competing options have continued to get better and more reasonably priced, the Protective Cover remains as lazy and mediocre as it was before. It consists of nothing more than a single piece of matte rubber that has been etched on the back with the company’s signature topographic pattern.
To be clear, Incase’s rubber shell is fine for the little that it does. It is sold in black, green, and magenta versions, covering most of the polished metal back of the touch, its top and side buttons, and its front chrome bezel. The polished metal area around the touch’s Dock Connector and headphone port is exposed with an oval that’s able to accommodate Apple’s cables and headphone plugs, as well as oversized headphone plugs and some large Dock Connector cables; the case also fits into Universal Docks without an issue. It is also thin, adding little to the second-generation touch’s bulk, and though it doesn’t look fantastic, there’s certainly more design here than in the most basic $10 or less rubber cases one can find online. The matte rubber makes the iPod touch a little easier to grip than it is when it’s bare, just as you’d find in a case such as PDO’s $20 TopSkin or Belkin’s $25 Sonic Wave.
The problem in our view is the price Incase is asking for something so utterly simple and incomplete. While companies such as Marware and PDO sell comparably plain rubber cases for $15-$20, competitors such as SwitchEasy find ways to include optional port covers, video stands, and headphone port extension cables in packages that sell for $25. Incase charges more and doesn’t even include a screen protector, which is now a staple pack-in with virtually all of its top competitors, keeping the face safe from the types of scratches and chips that we’ve seen on Apple’s touchscreen devices over the past year and a half. Despite its name, the Protective Cover is less protective than virtually all of the competing cases we’ve seen for the second-generation iPod touch to date.
Last year, we rated the iPhone version of this case a C+ on the grounds that it was a “competent design, but not a good value for the dollar, especially on protectiveness.” There weren’t many other cases at that point for the original iPhone, and no one was sure how touchscreen case pricing or protection were eventually going to shake out. Fifteen months later, with plenty of competition out there—and many superb iPod touch case options in the $15-$30 price range—our view isn’t so charitable. There’s less to like about this case than either the company’s Hard Case or Slider Case, neither of which blew us away; as a simple piece of rubber with a $30 price tag, it is the sort of product that should and will make people question the sanity of its buyers. But for its slimness and grippiness, neither unique to this particular product, it would rate lower.
Company and Price
Model: Protective Cover
Compatible: iPod touch 2G