Review: iPod Mini Case Round-Up : oPod and iPod Armor

Two ways to keep the iPod mini safe and fashionable. (May 19th, 2005)

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Product Manufacturer: OtterBox and Matias Corp.

Price: oPod = $49.95 USD iPod Armor = $34.95 USD

The Good

  • OtterBox oPod Mini superb protection in rugged conditions; sturdy; waterproof seal; membrane access to click wheel

    Matias iPod Armor great protection from day-to-day nicks, scratches; easy insertion/removal of Mini; clear plastic front allows Miniís color to show through; small form factor conforms with Mini look/feel

The Bad

  • OtterBox oPod Mini large size may turn off people who buy Mini for form factor; industrial look/feel defeats ďcoolĒ feeling of Mini; tinted plastic hides Miniís colorful front

    Matias iPod Armor Front panel must be opened every time you want to start/stop music; belt clip is optional

Pink. Just remember pink, and it'll explain everything.

At least when it comes to my teenage daughter and iPod enclosures.

Style is her ultimate decider; it's why she bought an pink iPod Mini rather than a 3G iPod. Never mind that the iPod's capacity was significantly greater than the Mini for only a few dollars more. She thought the Mini looked cooler.

How to protect an iPod

And so it does...and that translates into the issue of how to best protect it from scratching, breaking and the like. The folks at OtterBox and Matias Corporation sent along their iPod Mini cases for review. Both do an excellent job of protecting the Mini, albeit at different levels. The level you're comfortable with will depend on what how you intend to use your iPod, and under what conditions.

Like a Knight in Shining Armor, From a Long Time Ago -- Peter Cetera

The iPod Armor is designed for style, and a moderate range of protection. Its clear acrylic cover opens easily, and allows you to slip the Mini inside, where it's cushioned and held in place. It's a solid fit, and the Armor will protect your Mini from the full range of daily scratches and mini-bumps and bruises that leave unprotected iPods looking like refugees from the music wars. One note: it's not totally user-friendly, in that to start, stop, or advance the music, you must open the acrylic front. But the click wheel is solidly and clearly protected; there's your trade-off. And you can't clip it on your belt, unless you buy the optional Armor Clip.

This is the one that my daughter was using on a day-to-day basis; its clear front and white plastic back let the Mini's style come through clearly.

Beauty is Skin Deep, but Protective is Straight to the Bone

By contrast, the OtterBox oPod may never win a beauty contest, but it sure will keep the Mini inside safe from surf and sand at the beach this summer. The oPod comes in a brownish smoke-gray tinted plastic. You slide the Mini in after opening a clip at the bottom, then reseal the unit, which makes it waterproof. Unlike the Armor, the oPod has a membrane-like covering over the click wheel that lets you start and stop the music to your heart's content. It also comes with a built-in clip. But the things that make it oh-so-suitable for protecting your Mini on the raft trip down the Colorado, like its added size and heft (larger than a regular size iPod), make it oh-so-unsuitable for your teenager who bought her Mini to make a fashion statement as much as listen to her favorite music (insert your own Britney Spears line here).

Right Product, Right Time

So here's the deal: she'll use the iPod Armor while she's going to school, and use the oPod on our beach vacation later this summer. Style is important, mind you, but practicality wins out at the waterline.

Victor Marks, Reviews Editor, who appreciates all things that protect gadget investment, contributed to this evaluation.

by Steve Friedberg


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