Pros: Looks like a silver brick, offers apparently strong anti-shock and drop protection, but-
Cons: Poorly designed interior damaged our test iPod (see photos above), imprecise hinge and case alignment caused case to scratch itself during normal use. Shows marks quickly.
We were ready to write a very different and generally positive review of Proporta’s new iPod Aluminum Case – a new and less expensive competitor to the iPod Armor aluminum case from Matias, which we’ve already reviewed and liked. But when we finished testing Proporta’s case and discovered that it had scratched our demo iPod – something that didn’t happen with any of the other cases we tried – it instantly failed our most important test.
This wasn’t something we had expected. United Kingdom-based Proporta and other companies have been selling aluminum PDA cases for years, and Proporta specifically has won a fair share of acclaim for its designs. Most of the company’s PDA cases are sleek, impressively designed to hug the curves of the products inside, and renowned for their protective qualities. Proporta’s iPod case, like many others, opens into two pieces – one back piece comprising two thirds of the case’s thickness, and a front panel with a metal locking clasp on its top and a hinge on its bottom. The hinge both enables the front panel to flip open and slide about half an inch up or down, basically so the front panel can fold around the bottom of the case and become a tabletop mount. Though the hinge’s movement was less smooth than we would have liked, the table-mounting feature worked adequately and we didn’t fear that our test iPod would fall out of the case. A belt clip is also included, and likely required given a prominent and non-removable metal stud that pokes out of the case’s back.
Without dwelling on the point, Proporta’s iPod case doesn’t look as good as either the iPod Armor or even Proporta’s other cases, and at best resembles a small silver brick. Our sample version bore no logos, Proporta, iPod or otherwise – contrasting with the iconic iPod embossing on the Matias product, which we liked because it let people know what was inside. Proporta’s no-frills exterior will only interest people who either don’t care about high style, or want something that both hides and protects the iPod. And because of its large metal stud and overall thickness, it’s not a case that will easily slip into a pocket – except a large one. Proporta’s design might fit better in a briefcase or possibly purse, though the stud makes it slightly unwieldy in those places, too.
We also note that after slight usage, the retracting bottom hinge caused the two case halves to slightly scuff each other, surprising us because we’d guessed that the case was generally impervious to scratching. Then we noticed that the front of the case also showed a couple of light scratches even though we hadn’t put it through harsh exercises. But external scratching is a relatively trivial point given the product’s bigger issues.
For reference, our reviewer liked the iPod Armor’s style, thickness and protective abilities, but found the case too difficult to open, a problem for those who like to access the controls of the iPod rather than leaving it on a set playlist. If nothing else, Proporta’s case is easy to open – we never had any problem keeping it closed or opening it up, thanks to a small plastic lip mounted on the otherwise all-metal exterior. And a thin layer of black foam provides padding on the inside to snugly hold the iPod in place, even when the front panel is opened.
But these seemingly decent features worked together to scratch our iPod. After closing and opening the case, we saw that two small scuff-chunks had been taken out of the plastic top surface of our iPod, which we initially attributed to the fact that even though Proporta bills the case as “one-size-fits-all,” it seemed a little too tight for a 30/40GB iPod. It turned out that the interior top surface of the case wasn’t padded, and left exposed the jagged hard-plastic internal mounts for the case’s easy-open lip. The jagged plastic would have damaged any iPod placed inside.
In sum, after only a couple of days of use, the Proporta case had slightly damaged itself and the iPod, even though it hadn’t been dropped or mishandled. We can only assume that the damage to the iPod would have been even more severe if it had been mishandled, and that if the case can scratch itself because of imprecise alignment of the hinge and two metal parts, it will display fairly significant scratches if other items come into contact with it. Though cheaper than the Matias solution, and likely protective against certain types of damage, we could not recommend Proporta’s Aluminum Case in good faith to any user because of the damage it caused. Slightly better engineering could really have made a significant difference for this product.
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: iPod Aluminum case
Compatible: iPod 3G