Though we rarely look at iPod shuffle accessories these days, we wanted to run a brief review of XtremeMac’s new Shieldz Characters and Sport cases ($20 each) for the gumpack-sized iPod – follow-ups to the company’s year-old, interesting Shieldz (iLounge rating: B). The prior Shieldz were nothing more than colored translucent half-shells for the shuffle, sold in three-packs without any special adornment. They were intended primarily to be used with the shuffle’s lanyard necklace, transforming the white-colored iPod into various “fruit” and neon colors while you walked around.
Shieldz Characters and Sport are sold individually for the same price as Xtreme’s earlier 3-packs, each using a clear-colored Shield with artwork permanently fused inside.
The result is a shell that’s as glossy as before, but now decorated with your choice of several licensed themes. There are three Major League Baseball teams, namely the Yankees, Red Sox, and Cardinals, and five cartoon and movie versions, specifically Batman, Yoda and Darth Vader from Star Wars, and two SpongeBob Squarepants cases. Each piece of artwork is more than just a simple, obvious transfer of a logo onto a case; the three Sport cases actually feature nice foreground and background details, and the Character cases make their respective iconic characters look good against colored rear art.
Yoda is featured in a Clone Wars cartoon style; Darth Vader in a more serious, fiery image.
At $20 a pop, the Shieldz are far from the best iPod shuffle case values we’ve seen, and they’re nowhere near as protective as they could be, either: Xtreme leaves the shuffle’s controls and almost the entire rear panel exposed, a major contrast with its later, superior Iconz cases for full-sized and nano iPods. If you were looking for just a plain-colored shell of this sort, you could surely get three from XtremeMac for the same price as one of these. But that’s obviously not the point here – if you’re thinking of buying these, you’re doing it for the art, and the company has done a good job with that, and hasn’t set the price so high that we’d object to it.