If you own an iPod, you know you need to purchase and use a case in order to keep from getting it smudged and scratched. But if you own a U2 iPod, you don’t want to cover up its unique style with a case. When I purchased a 5th Generation iPod U2 Special Edition, I had a difficult time finding a case that met both of those needs, but I did end up with a great one (eventually).
The first case I purchased is one designed specifically for U2 iPods: the Incase Folio for iPod U2 Special Edition for $50. It’s made out of stylish black leather with red-and-black chevrons on the trim (matching U2’s “How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb” album) and the back features a clear vinyl window so you can see the engraved signatures of the band members. Seems like a perfect choice, right? Unfortunately, I couldn’t stand to use this case for more than a couple of days.
First, the Click Wheel is covered by a red silicone protector stitched into the leather. This is an unnecessary addition that causes more problems than it solves. The material is too thick to let the majority of touches activate the Click Wheel. It makes a heavy touch necessary, which sometimes translates to actual button clicks. The color-screen of fifth generation iPods requires a simple touch to brighten a dimmed screen, but due to the Click Wheel’s protection, that is basically impossible to accomplish. Even reviewers on Apple’s online store who gave the case high marks noted that they had removed the protector with a razor blade.
Second, the clear-plastic window that covers the iPod’s screen is not sized/placed correctly. The top portion of the video screen (where important information like battery life and playing status are displayed) is often cut off. Similarly, the clear back panel is not big enough to fully display the engraved signatures, which is the entire point of the clear back.
Finally, it’s a folio, and it folds horizontally using two flaps. When the cover flaps are closed, you cannot access the iPod’s controls. And it’s not particularly easy to get it open or closed on a regular basis because it uses two heavy-duty snap-buttons.
All of these problems may account for the product’s subsequent price drop to $40 and eventual removal from Apple’s online store.
After abandoning the Incase Folio, I picked up a VideoShell from Digital Lifestyle Outfitters (DLO) for $20. This crystal clear shell case is designed for any 5G iPod with Video. The iPod slides down into the case from the top which has a removable top that latches on each side. Unfortunately, I became too familiar with that removable top.
The hole cut into the top for the headphone jack is deep, but not wide. This means that any headphone jack slightly wider than Apple’s included earbuds will not fit. So I had to constantly remove the top piece in order to use the iPod in the car, with a stand-alone stereo, etc. I figured it was a matter of ‘when,’ not ‘if’ I would lose that top piece, especially when the side latches started to bend and their grip loosened, resulting in the top coming off unexpectedly.
The Dock Connector access hole is also quite deep, which precludes using the iPod with any Dock-sized devices other than the basic USB connector cable. If I wanted to use an iTrip or put it in the iTone or iHome, for example, I would have to take it out of the case every time.
Also an annoyance is the fit, which is not snug. The iPod jiggled around inside the case constantly, rubbing the engravings off onto the inside back of the case.
And on the back of the case is an embossed DLO logo. Not only does this line up over the U2 logo on the back of the iPod, it means the iPod cannot lay flat on its back. If a princess can feel a pea under a pile of mattresses, I can notice when I press a button on the iPod and it rolls around like it’s sitting on a penny.
Thankfully, I have found a great case: Griffin Technology’s iClear. As the name implies, this case has a clear front piece that is completely transparent. The back piece is frosted, but largely clear. The signatures are completely readable through the back piece.
It solves all the problems the other cases have. The two pieces snap together tightly so the iPod is completely snug inside. The headphone jack opening is large enough to accommodate other, thicker jacks. The bottom of the case actually ends at the bottom of the iPod, so any Dock-based accessories can be attached to the bottom of the iPod. And it only costs $20, no more than the flawed DLO case.
The only drawback to this case is that, similar to the DLO case, the Griffin logo falls right on top of the U2 logo. But this logo is just slightly engraved rather than being embossed, so the case lays completely flat on its back.
Griffin Technology is a long-standing company in the world of Apple accessories, but I haven’t seen this particular case in many retail locations despite the abundance of iPod cases in nearly every store nowadays. And when I was recently in an Apple retail store, an employee at the Genius Bar saw this case on my iPod, was impressed and asked me what it was and where I got it.
If you’re looking for a clear case for your 5th Generation iPod, check out the iClear, which is compatible with 30GB, 60GB and 80GB models, and is the best case I’ve found for the U2 iPod with video.