When I received my iPod a few weeks ago I noticed couple of things right off the bat; 1)The device is sleek and sexy and 2)The thing is heavily susceptible to scratches. Immediately I set my sights on finding a proper solution that would protect my valuable device while properly showcasing its sleek and innovative design. I tried out a number of different units but none of them managed to impress me as much as the Contour Showcase
, the subject of today’s review.
It has virtually everything that you could ever ask for in a protective case and then some. Not only does it showcase the beauty of the device but it also allows it to be fully functional and accessible while protecting it. Best of all? It’s easy to use and it feels safe and sturdy too. Forget those lame gel-based solutions, forget about all of the other pretenders out there, the Contour Showcase comes to play and it’s the best case that your money can buy.
Built from a nice mixture of plastic and rubber, the Showcase does an excellent job of protecting and showcasing your pricey investment. Instead of housing the iPod entirely in rubber or plastic the case is built from a plastic mold with some rubber trimming on its outside. This works wonders when it comes from protecting the actual unit itself. The rubber helps to round out the edges and make the device easier to grip while sheltering it from harm.
Putting the iPod into the device is a simple and painless process, thanks largely to the effortless latch that’s built into the side of the unit. The entire case swings out vertically to allow for you to insert and remove the device with ease but it’s the fastener that really impresses me. It’s so simple to secure yet it feels very safe and protective. Never once did I feel like the case could accidentally open while in transport nor did I feel like the case could inadvertently open upon dropping it. In fact I test dropped the unit a few times (sans iPod of course) and the unit stayed secure every single time.
If you own the 30 or 40 GB model you’ll find that you can slide the device in on its own. A small backing pad is included so that the device can be used with the smaller 10 and 20 GB models as well. I was kind of disappointed to see that the designers opted for a foam pad as opposed to a clear solution. This causes the back to be covered, obscuring the metal backing and the prominent Apple logo. Also, those who opted for the laser engraving will be saddened to know that the molding of the case obscures it entirely.
One of the few problems I had with the Contour Showcase was that it added a little bit of bulk to the device. While it added some precious layers of protection I couldn’t help but feel that I holding a semi-clunky NoMad JukeBox and not the supersleek iPod. I also had a difficult time putting the unit into my pant pocket without stretching out the fabric. Without the case I have plenty of room to house my iPod and my Motorola T720 but the Showcase takes up my entire pocket space. Thankfully the designers included a nifty little belt strap that allowed me to tote the device around on my belt loop as opposed to my pocket. At first I was disappointed to see that the belt hook was horizontal as opposed to vertical but I learned to live with the design. It fits on relatively easy and doesn’t even require you to pry it open with your fingers, just slide it on to your belt and you’re all set. Just how secure is the belt clip? Well it’s definitely strong enough to stay attached during low periods of activity but athletes might want to consider a different solution. It fell off of the hem of my pants when I was playing racquetball and a pick-up game of basketball and nearly came off when I went for a brisk jog. Regarded, it’s probably unlikely that you’ll want to use your own iPod in such situations but it’s a nice barometer of how much grip you can expect from the clip.
Upon evaluating the competition’s cases I often notice that they have a difficult time catering to the features on the top and bottom of the device. Speck Products features a similar case but you have to unhook the bottom of the case to reach the scroll wheel and firewire port while the hold button can’t be accessed without opening the entire case. There are no such problems here because easy access is given to both of these functions. When it comes to accessing the iPod’s features it doesn’t get any better than this. Again, other solutions have problems with giving you full access to the buttons and scrollwheel. Some have openings that are too tiny while others conceal the wheel entirely and force you to open up a portion of the case to access it. That’s not the case here; the case has small openings over each of the features that allow you to access it with ease. Also nice is the fact that the plastic housing on the front extends to the actual screen, providing a much-needed layer of protection.
If I have one gripe with the case it’s that the openings for the four major holes are a bit too small. I’m one of those types who likes to access those functions with my thumb but doing so usually doesn’t register with the device. Instead I usually have to use my index finger in order to access the functions. It’s not too much of a problem when I have the unit out in the open but it’s kind of difficult to do when I’m trying to navigate with the unit in my pocket. I’ve run into the same problem with the competing devices as well so it’s not really too debilitating to the overall unit, I guess I’m just the modest type who’s a little gun-shy when it comes to having my device out in the open.
Aside from that small complaint I’d say that the only real problem with the Showcase comes from its availability. I wasn’t able to find it in of the retail stores in my area nor were my friends in the San Diego area. I’m sure that it’s available at retailers in some of the nation’s larger regions but it’s almost impossible to find in a small town like Ashland, Oregon. Thankfully you can pick up the unit directly from the manufacturer’s Web site
Make no mistake about it; the Contour Design Showcase is the best iPod case on the market. It offers the best performance without substituting the look and stylishness that iPod owners crave. Unless you prefer the more stylish, yet less protective, gel-style cases out there, run out and pick up the Contour Design Showcase. It’s a bit pricey at $39.99 but it’s a small drop in the bucket for all you turkeys who forked out 4 bills for your shiny little music player.