Pros: Resilient, as stylish as you desire, thin and very protective of all iPod components. Great price.
Cons: Touch sensitivity on buttons and scroll wheel requires proper alignment of case, initial smell is unpleasant, screen protection is extra.
One of our favorite silicone cases is only somewhat of a surprise: made by small China-based company Lajo, the silicone rubber eXo 2 isn’t perfect, but it’s as close as anything has come so far. Resilient, fashionable, and inexpensive, the eXo 2 is the case we’d buy for ourselves, give as gifts to our parents, and recommend first to our friends. It’s a glove-like sheathe that completely covers your iPod except for its hold switch, headphone port, dock connector port, and screen.*
We gave the eXo 2 our highest possible rating on appearance for four reasons: first, you can buy one in a color that matches (white) or shows off (transparent) your iPod; second, if you want a case that stands out, there are at least 18 different color variations to choose from; third, it’s the only case that accomplishes factors one and two while protecting the iPod’s buttons and scroll wheel; and fourth, it’s thin enough to leave your iPod looking like an iPod.
All of Lajo’s eXo cases share the first two factors in common, and that’s a good thing. Made from a highly impressive Japanese rubber, the eXo cases we’ve tested have proved completely resilient to repeated tugs, scratch opportunities and placements inside of pants and jacket pockets. A side benefit of rubber as a case material is its ability to inexpensively absorb interesting colors: in addition to opaque and translucent colors, Lajo currently offers four pearlescent variants, three glow-in-the-dark versions, and at least one fluorescent color. Companies can’t, and probably shouldn’t do this with leather. So whether you want a “serious” flat black or white case, a glowing green, or a robust red, you’re covered.
As is your iPod. In addition to two millimeter-thick coating for the front, back, and sides of the iPod, a much thinner rubber protects the buttons and scroll wheel against damage. Each button still operates reasonably by touch despite the covering – about as much as we’d expect given the touch-sensitive design of the iPod. The aforementioned holes for the various ports and hold switch are just large enough to be useful – there’s no interference with the ability of cables to be plugged in, though peripherals such as the iTrip and Belkin Voice Recorder are another story – and we’ve never had concern about damage to our test iPod when it’s been inside the eXo 2. That’s great peace of mind. Scrolling with the wheel is also only modestly impeded, a fair enough trade-off for the extra protection accorded the iPod’s entire body.
[* = The only missing piece – sort of – is screen protection. Lajo sells them separately but cheap, offering eight colors of iShade screen protectors at $3.50 each and allowing them to be interchanged between the various iterations of the eXo cases. Given that so many iLounge users have purchased multiple eXos, and that the clear (Crystal) iShade works so well with all of them, we can’t complain much that they’re not packed in.]
What we like most about the eXo 2 is that it lets an iPod drop safely into a pants pocket, but some users will prefer to display it on a belt. A metal, rubber-shielded mount on the back is perfectly designed not to scratch the iPod or add significant extra thickness unless a clip is actually attached. Lajo’s FXClip is available as a free option from the company’s web site, but the company also sells springy Bungie clips and an old-fashioned belt clip called the Bclip. (They have also recently started to sell the SWVClip, which we haven’t tested.) We’d recommend the FXClip as the best of the first three, and the Bungie is a cute novelty that may or may not meet your fashion needs. The Bclip isn’t bad, but we suspect the larger SWVClip is intended to replace it.
Our only minor knock on the eXo 2 is an unusual one: its initial smell. Though it can and should be washed in warm water immediately after purchase, the out-of-package rubber odor was nothing short of nauseatingly strong. But it does disappear after a wash. Lajo could score a few extra points by scenting the next generation of eXos with something other than chemicals.
As a final note to potentially confused consumers, don’t confuse the eXo 2 with iSkin’s eXo2, which we’ve already reviewed quite positively. The iSkin product nicely bevels the various holes on its case, but Lajo’s case does a better job of covering them up (buttons and touch wheel), offers more colors, and is available at a lower price.
Jeremy Horwitz is a consumer electronics fanatic who practices intellectual property law in his spare time. His recent book, Law School Insider, has been called the “best book about law school -ever,” and he continues to contribute to Ziff-Davis electronic entertainment magazines.
Company and Price
Model: eXo 2
Compatible: iPod 3G