With the holidays rapidly approaching, a number of companies have rushed to release new cases for the iPod touch, and not surprisingly, there are a lot of similarities between the latest options. Today, we’re looking at eight new iPod touch cases, four made from transparent hard plastic, two from softer silicone rubber, and two from metal.
All eight cases start from the same place: they all cover the majority of the iPod touch’s sides and back, almost all of its face aside from its screen and Home button, and part of its top. Each one leaves part of touch’s bottom open, and provides some direct access for light to reach its brightness sensor. And they all try aggressively to complement the iPod touch’s thinness rather than radically thickening it with additional material. Consequently, none of these cases would accurately be described as “bulky.”
As predictable as rubber cases have become, and as similar as PDO’s TopSkin ($20) and DLO’s Jam Jacket ($25) may be to earlier, same-named products from both companies for other iPods, there’s a lot worth mentioning—and respecting—about these two rubber cases. With TopSkin, which is available in black, blue, pink, or white—PDO has designed a case that literally and intelligently covers every bit of the iPod touch, with only one limitation that will bother some users more than others. And with Jam Jacket, which is sold in opaque black and frosted clear versions, DLO has created a sharp-looking alternative that remedies TopSkin’s only problem, but introduces a few small issues of its own.
TopSkin’s only issue is a direct result of its approach to protection: out of necessity, it provides access to the iPod touch’s headphone and Dock Connector ports, but like other recent TopSkins, it covers them with flaps of rubber that can be opened as much or as little as you need. We love this approach when we’re pocketing our iPods, as it mostly keeps dirt and dust from getting inside, but it’s not as ideal for use with Universal Dock-style iPod accessories, which expect unfettered access to touch’s Dock Connector. As-is, you can pull the flap back and try to stick touch inside of a dock—generally, it’ll work if you move quickly enough to avoid the rubber falling back into place—but DLO’s fully open bottom on Jam Jacket eliminates the need for such coordination.
DLO’s fully open bottom is joined by an open Sleep/Wake button on top—another piece that TopSkin covers—and like TopSkin, holes for both the screen and the brightness sensor. Both companies cover touch’s entire face save the Home button with clear screen film, and then cover the Home button with rubber, limiting the possibility of damage to the device’s face. Where DLO uses large rubber dots to add tack to touch’s sides, and prominent corner bumpers, PDO’s TopSkin uses a less contoured, more iPod touch-shaped shell that feels a little thicker but equally good, thanks to tiny textured side grip dots that can be felt but not seen.
Coverage aside, their biggest differences are in their rears. PDO includes a detachable hard plastic belt clip that ratchets, loosely, through 180 degrees of freedom, and also includes a wrist strap that you can attach to two small holes in the case’s back. DLO instead integrates a non-detachable Apple iPod Earphone and cord manager, made from the same rubber as the case, into each Jam Jacket’s back. This has the result of making DLO’s design thicker at all times than TopSkin at its clip-less minimum, but again, Jam Jacket doesn’t feel big—you’ll just have to decide whether you’ll use the earbud manager enough to keep the extra block of rubber back there at all times.
With a $5 price difference between them, and somewhat better protection in PDO’s design, the choice between TopSkin and Jam Jacket generally tilts in TopSkin’s favor. PDO delivers currently unmatched protection, a good belt clip option, and four colors of a case design that’s not beautiful, but highly competent in every other regard—worthy of our A- level high recommendation. By comparison, DLO’s design comes in fewer colors and isn’t quite as versatile or protective, but it looks a little nicer and is a bit easier to use with Universal iPod Docks, as well as Apple’s earbuds. It’s a very solid B+ at its $25 MSRP, and better if you can find it cheaper; we’d sooner recommend DLO’s more impressive hard plastic HybridShell and VideoShell as alternatives.
Company and Price
Company: Portable Device Outfitters (PDO)
Compatible: iPod touch