Love your iPod - iPod protection

Love your iPod - iPod protection

Summary: I've owned an Apple iPod nano now for over a month now and I'm immensely impressed by the design and the features it offers. Being a huge fan of Audible and audio books in general, a small, easy to use, 8GB capacity flash-based player is what I've been dreaming of for some time. The nano fits my needs very well. However, the design of the nano leads me to believe that it's not the kind of player that's going to take rough handling all that well.

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TOPICS: Apple
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I've owned an Apple iPod nano now for over a month now and I'm immensely impressed by the design and the features it offers.  Being a huge fan of Audible and audio books in general, a small, easy to use, 8GB capacity flash-based player is what I've been dreaming of for some time.  The nano fits my needs very well.  However, the design of the nano leads me to believe that it's not the kind of player that's going to take rough handling all that well. 

As much as I like my nano, I'm certain that it's certainly not going to like being bounced off the floor like my old Creative MuVo did (that hit the dirt several times without suffering any real damage - apart from developing a curious rattle).  Depending on your lifestyle, I can see users wanting to protect their investment from three different levels of abuse:

  • Very minor cosmetic damage - Small scuffs and scratches
  • Larger-scale damage - Deep scratches, dents, knocks
  • Large scale abuse - Drops, immersion, high humidity

How much abuse you subject your iPod to will determine how much protection it needs.  In this post I'll be looking at three different kinds of iPod protection systems:

  • invisibleSHIELD full body shield
  • Matias Armor hard aluminum case
  • OtterBox for iPod nano

Each of these items have their own strengths and weaknesses and which you choose will depend on how much protection you want your iPod to have.

invisibleSHIELD

The invisibleSHIELD is the least obtrusive way to protect your iPod nano.  The invisibleSHIELD is an ultra-thin plastic film that fits over the iPod, protecting it from scratches and scuffs.  The film was initially designed for the military to protect the leading edges of helicopter blades. 

The kit comes with one invisibleSHIELD pre-cut for the device you want to protect, a squeegee, a bottle of SHIELDspray application solution and full instructions.  Fitting the invisibleSHIELD takes a few minutes and once it's on, it's pretty much invisible.  If you want to remove the invisibleSHIELD  then it's just a matter of peeling it off - it doesn't leave any residue of any sort on the iPod.

invisibleSHIELD

Invisible!

invisibleSHIELD

Pretty tought stuff

Pros:

  • Very lightweight
  • Invisible
  • You can still access the ports
  • You can still use the Clickwheel
  • Can be removed without leaving any residue

Cons:

  • Doesn't protect the iPod from drops/bending
  • Doesn't make the iPod waterproof
  • Allows dirt and dust to enter the iPod's ports
  • Cannot be reused
  • Quite expensive

Price (for iPod nano 2nd gen version): $24.95
Website: http://www.shieldzone.com/

Matias Armor

The Matias Armor aircraft-grade aluminum case for the iPod nano which offers your iPod much greater level of protection than the invisibleSHIELD does but it adds extra bulk.  Not much, but enough to make a difference if bulk and weight are critical to you.

The design that Matias chose for the case is a clamshell design.  There's a hinge on the right-hand side of the case and a secure clasp on the left.  The inside of the case is lined with soft neoprene to prevent the case from inflicting damage on your iPod.

The Matias Armor can also be fitted with an optional Armor Clip belt clip which can be fixed to the case.  This clip is very impressive and is rated for weights of over 100 times the weight of your iPod and case.  The patented release mechanism is designed to protect your iPod from false releases, while at the same time allowing easy removal with just one hand.

Matias Armor

Matias Armor

Pros:

  • Aluminum shell is light weight yet offers good impact protection
  • You can still access the ports
  • The hard plastic screen protector offers the screen excellent protection from damage
  • Armor Clip is very secure

Cons:

  • Doesn't make the iPod waterproof
  • Allows dirt and dust to enter the iPod's ports
  • Does not protect Clickwheel

Price (for iPod nano 2nd gen version): $29.95/$34.95 (depending on color)  Armor Clip costs $14.95
Website: http://matias.ca/

OtterBox for the iPod nano

If you want the ultimate protection for your iPod, you want an OtterBox.  Period.  The OtterBox for the iPod nano offers the highest level of protection for you iPod possible.  There's almost no environment that's off-limits for your iPod when it's it an OtterBox (short of scuba diving depths and fire).  The design incorporates shock-absorbing foam which acts as a vibration dampener in the event that your iPod is knocked or dropped. 

The OtterBox for the iPod nano is waterproof to 1 meter/3 feet, dustproof, dirtproof, sandproof, and drop-proof yet it still allows you to use the Clickwheel, thanks to a flexible membrane on the front.  Also, unlike the other protecting mechanisms I've looked at, the OtterBox protects the ports from damage.  However, it does put the docking port off limits while the iPod is in the OtterBox, which means that you can't charge or fill the iPod with music while it's inside the OtterBox. 

The OtterBox comes complete with an external headphone jack that you can use with headphones/earphones that use a standard 3.5mm/1/8" mini stereo jack plug which means.

The OtterBox also comes fitted with a very strong, secure belt hook which also doubles as a cable management system.

OtterBox for iPod

Pros:

  • Very rugged
  • Protects the iPod against damage from the elements (dirt, dust, sand, moisture)
  • Waterproof
  • Still allows access to earphone port
  • Integral belt clip

Cons

  • Bulky
  • Cannot access the dock port

Price (for iPod nano 2nd gen version): $39.95/
Website: http://www.otterbox.com/

My Favorite

I'm going to finish up by telling you which of these protection mechanisms is my favorite.  It's the OtterBox.  As I've said before, I'm pretty harsh on bits of technology and I have confidence that the OtterBox will do a good job of protect my nano.  Yes, it adds some bulk to the iPod but not too much, and the clip and lanyard more than makes up for the extra bulk.

While the OtterBox is the most expansive of the protection mechanisms (although you need to factor in that it comes complete with a belt clip, which costs extra on the Matias Armor), it's well engineered.  Style is secondary to function, but style isn't going to protect your iPod. 

The engineers and designers at Otter have put a lot of effort into getting the OtterBox for the iPod just right.  The screen protector on the OtterBox is nice and clear and free from distortion, making the screen a joy to use.  The Clickwheel protector doesn't impede the use of the Clickwheel - although I will admit the Clickwheel is more responsive when the iPod is out of the OtterBox.  Short of putting the nano in a safe, I can't find a better way to protect it.

Topic: Apple

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7 comments
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  • Adrian, you'd be amazed what an unprotected nano can handle!

    http://arstechnica.com/reviews/hardware/nano.ars/3 has the results of several destruction tests of new Nanos, including

    1. Sitting on the iPod nano
    2. Dropping it while jogging (4-6mph),
    3. Dropping at various speeds: 8-10mph (slow bicycle), 15-20mph (fast bicycle), 30mph (slow car), and 50mph (fast car)
    4. Dropping the nano from various heights.


    After reading this, I submit that the thing is not gonna mind a drop in the dirt.
    retrosteve
    • Of course, nothing is indestructible...

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8H29jU8Wrs It blends
      http://www.nbc11.com/news/9364784/detail.html but doesn't flush.
      retrosteve
    • The 2nd gen didn't perform as well ...

      http://arstechnica.com/reviews/hardware/ipod-2g.ars/3
      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
  • Er... a 1.8 inch headphone port???

    [b]The OtterBox comes complete with an external headphone jack that you can use with headphones/earphones that use a standard 3.5mm/[i]1.8"[/i] mini stereo jack plug which means. [/b]

    Uh.. Right. You meant a 1/8th" port - right? A 1.8 inch jack would be almost TWO INCHES or 45mm or as big as, if not bigger than the entire clickwheel's diameter!
    Wolfie2K3
    • Thanks for spotting that

      Cheers!
      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
  • "Blown up" iPod survives!

    Funny this post showed up . In Grass Valley, CA. yesterday afternoon someone reported a suspicious backpack at the local CHP office. Since no one claimed it and white wires were seen they evacuated the entire area called in the bomb squad and blew it up. It turns out it just had a towel, french fries(?)and an iPod in it.And get this...The iPod STILL works! No word on how the towel or french fries fared. I would think not as well!!
    vaveeg3807
  • RE: Love your iPod - iPod protection

    Thank you SO much for this article!
    I recieved an Ipod Classic for Xmas and have been agonizing for *weeks* about finding the right case.After slipping on a muddy patch last year & killing the mp3 player I had then,I wanted to make sure that my $AU300+ player had adequate shock protection.
    For the last fortnight I've been going back & forth from the Yotank,Matias Armor & Contour showcase sites and I've had reservations about the claims & specs of all of them.Portability for the Ipod Classic is especially an ill-addressed issue.(Why Apple doesn't have secure mobility options:e.g a lanyard or an armband included with such a costly object is beyond me.)Each product had something I didn't like:too heavy,no clickwheel protection,difficulty in removing from case etc.We're also going thru' a snap rainy season in Australia,and I'm frequently caught in inclement weather on my evening walk.I really needed someone to compare the lot and give a nice,user-subjective review,and YAY!-you took all the guesswork out of the equation.
    For $US80.00*,I bought an Otterbox bundle that includes an armor case,an armband,& waterproof earphones.Woo hoo! When it arrives I'll be all set to take it anywhere!
    (*ps Note to Australian readers:you might want to try Ebay or other sites as express international postage for the case thru' the Otterbox site is a whopping 77 bucks!!!
    The Ebay seller I bought mine from set postage at $17.95.He also has reputable feedback for prompt international postage,& if buying overseas,you should check same. )
    Anyhoo,thanks so much for a great article and for saving me a LOT of time & money trying to find the right case!:-)
    feralladybug