As smothered with leather case options as we’ve been over the past few months, the best new iPod cases we’ve seen tend to be ones made from plastics — either hard plastic or rubber. Today, we’re looking at a variety of new rubber designs from DLO, PDO, Power Support, and SwitchEasy, ranging in price from $10 to $30, and varying widely in pack-ins. This review covers two new iPod cases, Power Support’s Silicone Jacket for iPod nano ($25), and Silicone Jacket for iPod classic ($30), which have a lot in common.
All of these iPod nano case designs have three things in common. First, they cover all of the nano’s body, except for its screen and bottom, which are left open. Second, they all come in a black version, as well as at least one other color option. And third, each has at least one distinctive frill that may clinch its appeal to you, even if it doesn’t appeal as much to someone else.
Several years ago, Power Support explained its case development philosophy to us: its products might not be the least expensive, they suggested, but they’ll always be amongst the best made. However, as competition in the silicone rubber case market has continued, the gulf between Power Support’s surgical grade silicone case designs and their competitors has narrowed, and with superb offerings now available at low prices, can the Silicone Jackets still command a marked price premium?
It’s just a fact that Power Support packs a lot of stuff in with both of its Silicone Jackets. The iPod nano version comes in two colors—a white version available only through Apple, and the standard black version—each with clear screen, Click Wheel, and rear film protectors, plus a silicone rubber Dock Connector cover. New is a detachable shirt clip that doubles as a video stand for nano video viewing, a feature exclusive to the nano version of the Jacket. The iPod classic one doesn’t include the video stand, but does come with the other parts; it’s available in black and a clear frosted version that we strongly prefer to the opaque white nano version.
When you look at what you’re actually getting for the $25-30 prices, though, it’s obvious that most of Power Support’s pack-ins are protective. For instance, while the Click Wheel film the company includes is superb, and still the only film out there that deals properly with the iPods’ concave central Action buttons, is it really necessary given that all three of the competing products here have perfectly functional rubber covers, instead, and cost less? Similarly, the rubber Dock Connector cover, once unusual in Power Support’s cases, now also comes with SwitchEasy’s $10 Silicon Biscuits. Film rear protectors seem unnecessary given that there’s already rubber covering each iPod model’s back, so it goes without saying that you can do equally well on iPod protection for less. Then there’s the nano’s video stand, which works, only awkwardly given that the nano’s headphone port faces down. This would have worked better on the iPod classic version of the case.
That said, Power Support’s designs continue to be about as neutral and clean in their lines as silicone cases come. We have yet to show them to anyone who finds them offensive or objectionable; to the contrary, most people like how they look and feel right off the bat. Their only omissions are modest, and mostly in the classic version, which costs more, lacks the clip-slash-video stand, and also has an almost completely open top surface relative to the totally closed top of the nano version. Both cases are substantially accessory compatible, though, with the ability to work flawlessly in Universal Docks and with oversized headphone plugs; only the classic one has problems mounting full-width add-ons such as cable-less iTrips.
Given everything we’ve seen at various prices for the iPod nano and iPod classic, we have no doubt that the Silicone Jackets for these iPods are good cases, but they’re increasingly in need of new differentiators if they’re going to continue to demand steeper prices than their ever-improving competitors. Despite their solid protection, both versions are a bit too expensive given other good and great options we’ve seen; the iPod nano version of this case rates higher on account of its useful video stand, superior body protection, and better accessory compatibility, all of which could have helped the classic version as well. We hope that more body shapes, colors, textures, or other new features appear in subsequent Power Support releases.
[Editor’s Note: On January 21, 2008, we added the above photo of the clear version of the Silicone Jacket to this review.]
Company and Price
Company: Power Support
Model: Silicone Jacket
Compatible: iPod nano (video)