Pros: Resilient, incredible array of colors, thin and very protective of most iPod components. Great price for non-Inferno eXos.
Cons: Initial smell is unpleasant, and Inferno versions are pricey. Screen protection and other accessories are extra.
You already know our thoughts on Lajo’s eXo 2, but the company also has another type of silicone case called the eXo – a product that was originally sold by iSkin, and now is sold direct through Lajo’s web site. Back when 3G iPod cases were scarce, we anxiously waited to test the eXo against Speck Products’ iPod Skin, and preferred the eXo by a significant margin. Both cases were made from plastic, but the eXo’s superior silicone design fit the iPods better and integrated well with Lajo’s iShade screen protector.
Like the eXo 2, the eXo shields most of the iPod (save the hold switch, headphone and dock connector ports) with two millimeters of silicone, but unlike the eXo 2, it doesn’t attempt to cover the iPod’s buttons or scroll wheel. Practically speaking, this is only an issue if you keep keys or something else in your pocket at the same time as the iPod, but it’s the primary reason we now prefer the eXo 2’s design. Wisely, Lajo has lowered the price of the eXo to acknowledge the superior protection offered by the eXo 2, and now the company’s doing something else unique with the older eXo design.
Colors. Speck’s iPod Skin has three colors, and the eXo 2 has 18. As of today, the eXo is available in over 45 colors, with six fluorescents, eight frosted, eight glow-in-the-dark, eight pearlescents, three “original” colors, four solids, and four vibrant ones. Without a doubt, it’s the liveliest selection of iPod case personalization options we can imagine from one company, and it’s further enhanced by Lajo’s various accessories – four different styles of belt clips, eight different colors of iShade screen protectors, and transparent PTU plastic Zip cases large enough to hold earphones, the remote control and earphones, or a full iPod itself. We especially liked the tiny Zip case made just large enough to hold Apple’s earbuds. All of these add-ons are available for a few extra dollars a piece from Lajo’s web site, save a standardized decent enough belt clip that’s included for free if you request it.
Until we received the eXo 2, we used an eXo as our primary case for months without a complaint – well, except that we have to pull the bottom of the case off in order to use the iPod dock. But that’s a small price to pay for such reliable case protection. Truly, we wish that every peripheral maker would take the eXo’s two millimeter thickness into account when designing iPod add-ons, but perhaps this problem will be minimized when Lajo’s thinner eXo 3 becomes more widely available. We say “perhaps” only because thinning the silicone increases the risk of ripping, an issue we’ve never had with the eXo, and one of the reasons we continue to recommend it so highly.
Our only other minor knock on the eXo is the same as our issue with the eXo 2: the initial smell. Though eXos can and should be washed in warm water immediately after purchase, the out-of-package silicone odor is 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.
Lajo’s other version: the eXo Inferno
There’s not much left to say about Lajo’s eXo Inferno – a higher-priced version of the eXo available currently in four unique color combinations. But there are still a few things you might want to know about this highly-rated silicone silicone case.
At $37.50 per case, the Inferno is more than twice the price of Lajo’s standard eXo cases, but there’s a method to the madness: Canadian case designer and artist Lajo Cymbalski, the founder of the Lajo case company, considers these particular eXo cases to be works of art. They’re identical in form and function to the original eXo, but the cases are made with three separate colors of silicone silicone swirled into red and yellow flame designs. Cymbalski says that no two Infernos are alike, and hence worth the premium price as artistic works, though the only real differences between cases are the patterns taken on by the swirled colors of silicone.
Prices on other swirled versions of the eXo have fluctuated, with attractive black-and-white versions recently selling for under $20 before disappearing from Lajo’s site. Now four variants on the Inferno are available: Blue Ice (white, light blue, royal blue), Phosphorous (black, lime green, green), and Spring (pink, orange, and green) in addition to the original color scheme, all priced at $37.50. We think the price is too high – the black and white case would have been a better pick for the dollar, and the original eXos at $17.50 are a steal – but we do like the look of the Inferno cases. Their value as “art” may be lost on all but die-hard iPod fans, but they’re cool and very useful cases all the same.
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
Price: $17.50, $37.50, respectively
Compatible: iPod 3G