To call Speck an original design company would generally be an understatement: the company’s iPod cases are frequently outside the box, attention-grabbing, and unique. So it was somewhat disappointing to see the company release TechStyle Puck ($20), a ballistic nylon case that is nearly indistinguishable from cases we’ve seen packed in with Shure’s earphones, then only modestly customized for the second-generation iPod shuffle. Is me-too the best the company will do for Apple’s smallest iPod? Updated May 20, 2009: Speck has twice updated TechStyle Puck since its early 2007 introduction; details are at the bottom of the review.
TechStyle Puck is an all-black clamshell design with a single zipper and an outer body made from ballistic nylon, hard plastic, and rubber. Externally, it’s set apart from a Shure earphone case solely by a Speck logo on the top and an orange fabric Speck-branded loop, to which you can attach a large metal O-ring hook. Inside is a foam and plastic clip that pinches a second-generation iPod shuffle, and leaves enough room to wrap the shuffle’s earphones before zippering the case closed. That’s it.
To its credit, the Puck case serves a purpose: it provides an easy way to organize your shuffle and earphones in a holder that can be attached to a belt loop or tossed into your pocket. And it adds more protection than a Mophie Wraptor or similar hybrid of earphone cord manager and iPod shuffle shield; while the shuffle’s inside, it’s not getting damaged, period. The case’s reinforced body will guarantee that.
But you get basically no access to the shuffle’s controls, indicator lights, or clip while it’s inside. To access all of the shuffle’s switches and buttons, you’ll need to undo the zipper and possibly unwind a little of your headphone cord, depending on the phones you’re using – we tested a number of brands and had no issue using them with Puck. As the zip-closed, large, and opaque body would suggest, this is basically a “set it and forget it” style design – more of an iPod shuffle holder than a play-through case.
Given Speck’s storied history of innovation, TechStyle Puck is a snooze, but not a bad product – it’s as if the company felt the shuffle wasn’t worthy of something new, so it just cashed in by tweaking something that was already available. Speck’s surely more capable than tossing a new logo and a new hook on an old $15 earphone case would suggest, but if this case fits your needs, it’s strong and safe enough that you won’t be disappointed by its protection.
Editor’s Note: Speck subsequently introduced green and pink versions of the TechStyle Puck, shown above, for the second-generation iPod shuffle. Then, in May 2009, it released a modestly updated version called “TechStyle for iPod shuffle 2G or iPod shuffle 3G with VoiceOver,” which now includes a simple rubber insert to hold the third-generation iPod shuffle.
This rubber insert can be bent to grip both sides of the third-generation iPod shuffle, holding it in place and permitting wrapping of the headphone cord around the hard plastic iPod shuffle 2G clips. You can also remove the insert to continue to use the case with the older shuffle model. Additional blue and purple versions of TechStyle are available, with a new pink version, and a black version that is otherwise identical to the original design.
Company and Price
Company: Speck Products
Compatible: iPod shuffle 2G, 3G