My iPod lives on my desk at work, and is always running the risk of getting scratched, dropped, or (horror of horrors) drowned in a water bottle mishap. I figured that the iGuy was a cute little critter who would add a bit of character to my otherwise boring desk, while providing some protection from the day to day rigours of desk-dwelling for my iPod.
Once I had fought my way into the plastic packaging, and extracted both the iGuy and the bits of cardboard which filled him, I had to try to work out the meaning of the 'instructions' for inserting my iPod. After two attempts at translating pictures into actions, I dispensed with the instructions, and did what I thought was right. The result? My iPod was properly inserted into my new iGuy, and was ready to go.
The iGuy is made from some thick rubbery material, and is almost a little clammy to the touch. He's quite sturdy, with solid little legs, incongruously long arms (which are reminiscent of those toys which were available when I was a kid that you could bend into all manner of poses), and has the cutest little bum. His 'waist' is a slit through which the iPod is inserted, and which can be cracked open to allow charging and downloading of material. There are gaps for the iPod click wheel, the screen, the earphone lead, and the hold switch. The screen of the iPod is protected by a plastic insert in the case.
In terms of the operation of my iPod, the iGuy made little difference. The click wheel was as easy to use as always, and the plug for the earphones was easily accessible. Possibly the only fault with the design in terms of the iPod's usability is that the rubber material is too thick to permit easy use of the hold switch on the top of the iPod. This wasn't a problem for me, as I don't often need to use this switch, but I can see that it may create some issues for anyone who uses this iPod function regularly. I am, however, more than satisfied that the design of the iGuy adequately protects my iPod from the day to day hazards to which it is exposed.
My iGuy now stands on my desk, and when I'm pausing for some inspiration, I often find myself playing with him. He's a great conversation piece, with everyone coming into my office first commenting on him, and then often playing with him themselves. All in all, I'm happy that the iGuy has become part of my office furniture, he's fun to have around!
The arrival of my iGuy was greeted with much enthusiasm. On opening the courier bag I was greeted by my new little friend in all its pristine whiteness.
I quickly removed him from his packaging which was simple yet functional and introduced him to my iPod Photo. It was a match made in heaven, as my iPhoto quickly shed its previous attire and slipped easily into its new garb, to begin its life as an iPod with attitude. This was made easier by the addition of a clear plastic insert that gives the iGuy added stiffness and protection as well as forming part of the catch that closes the join where the iPod is inserted. So plus points for the ease of which the iPod can be inserted and removed from the iGuy!
Once it was in, I could see my iPod was well protected from small falls and scratches, especially to the screen, as the iGuy also comes with a clear plastic screen protector.
The unfortunate thing about the timing of my iGuy's arrival was that my iPod was getting minimal use due to me being on school holidays and not travelling by bus in a daily basis. So for the first two weeks it spent most of its time standing beside my TV and plugged into my stereo system.
Once I started back to school, I found that the iGuy didn't 'slip' into my pocket like I was used to. This meant he needed to be held at all times which tended to make it difficult to do certain things like hold a hot cup of coffee and pay my bus fare. The other negative aspect I discovered was that access to the 'Hold' switch was restricted due to the thickness of the cover. I tend to use the hold switch alot when I'm not wanting to lose a place in a podcast or audiobook, so this was a big point for me.
Overall I would say the iGuy is a great novelty for iPod owners, however is more suited for a static user, rather than a mobile user. It offers good protection for your iPod and gives clear access to the click wheel but is a bit too bulky and can restrict access to some of the iPod's other functions.
Value for Money - If you just want a protective case - 2 / 5, but if you want something a little different and don't need to put it in your pocket - 4 / 5
P.S. I couldn't help singing that song either!!
Easy access to click wheel
Novelty value (I certainly noticed people checking it out)
Great for tactile people
Bulky and unwieldy
Needs to be partially undressed for syncing
Access to 'Hold' switch restricted (could also restrict accessories such as FM transmitters or microphones)
iPod mini Skintight Armband
As an avid iPod fan and also a runner and gym-goer I was very keen to try out the Speck mini iPod skintight armband to see if it was any better than similar products I had tried. The first, and only, problem I had was getting into the packaging. It should not be that hard to open up plastic casing, I had to resort to hacking the packaging to bits with scissors to get the product out.
Anyway, once I'd fought my way in, the product consisted of two pieces, a clear skin for the iPod and the armband. The armband is a black rubberised strip about 2 inches wide with a fixed plastic holder for the iPod. The strap does up by way of velcro strips which allows it to be adjusted to various sizes. The smallest setting is small enough for most adults to wear the band on their upper arm, but the largest setting may not be big enough for a muscular man.
Once the iPod is in the skin it presses into the clear plastic holder on the armband, this holds the iPod securely and there is no suggestion of movement, so I had no concerns that it might fall out, or work loose, while I was running. At each side of the plastic holder there is a plastic groove for holding excess headphone cable. This seemed a particularly useful feature as I have had to resort to winding headphone cable around my arm to prevent it getting caught on gym equipment. The annoying thing about this feature, however, is that while it is perfect for holding the cable of the standard Apple iPod headphones, it does not work with my gym headphones which have a thinner cable. Using non-standard iPod headphones, usually the type that clip over your ear, is very common when working out, as it helps prolong the life of the nice Apple bud headphones, which also tend to fall out when running. A little more thought into the usage of this product may have led to a different design for the cable clip which would easily solve this problem.
The armband itself, being rubberised, is much nicer on the skin than a fabric version I had previously tried, which tended to chafe my arm. However, it does have a slightly odd rubbery smell which had transferred to my arm after I removed the armband. Although the smell washed off easily it was a little unpleasant. The other effect of having a rubber strap, rather than a fabric one, is that it doesn't absorb sweat, although this is a good thing, it does means that when you first remove the armband the inside is wet and slippery, again not that pleasant, but is easily wiped clean with a towel.
With thanks to Mr Roy and the folk at Speck, I trialled the Speck SkinTight Armband with my iPod Mini. The promotional blurb for this product notes that it "provides you with the freedom to run, bike, walk, or work-out". I did all of these things using the SkinTight Armband and what can I say? This products works! And what's more - I would buy it!!
Having got used to the belt-clip, I'd resigned myself to restricting my work-out wardrobe to pants with tighter waistbands, being nervous about the iPod Mini falling off during high-impact activities (it did once!) and yanking the earphones out every now and then. But no more! The SkinTight Armband feels snug, the SkinTight Rubberized Skin locks the iPod Mini in place and gives you the warm and fuzzies just knowing that your Mini is protected. However, it is a small mission to get the iPod Mini into the Rubberized Skin so don't expect to be taking it out in a hurry, or too often. Extracting the iPod Mini from the Armband also takes quite a tug, so generally, I'd view the whole kit as a more permanent arrangement for iPod Mini storage and use. Since I've had it, I've only taken the iPod Mini out of the Armband twice-mainly to see how difficult it was. The Armband itself is comfortable to wear (either on bare skin or on top of clothing) and I had no issues with putting it on or taking it off.
I've still worried about hitting the footpaths in the rain, but fortunately the snug fit means the whole kaboodle slides easily into my rain-jacket. The only criticism I have of the product is the 'see me, see my iPod Mini in its SkinTight Armband' aspect. I'm sure I've had some odd looks from random passers-by-though that may have nothing to do with the iPod in Armband ;-) - but depending on where I am I could get worried that someone might try to steal it. Lucky then, that you can wear it under clothing but you will need to experiment - some fabrics don't allow you access to the volume control! Now if only I could get my iPod Mini to match it's shuffle selections to my mood our partnership would be perfect!
iPod shuffle Connect and Protect
My iPod is used for work as a Computing and Music teacher, to collect student files for assessment, move them from Mac to Mac, as well as for storing music. It knocks around in the iBook bag or my pocket and so the arrival of the Connect and Protect for testing, to help protect it from scratches or loss, was most welcome.
How do I open the packet? Like many consumer electronic items, this needs a pair of scissors or sharp knife to get the various pieces out. There was no documentation with the packaging, but none was needed really.
There are 4 different caps with rubber skins, to replace the Apple ones covering the USB plug, as well as the rubber skin that the iPod fits into, to protect it. They are:
- Key ring, which is a decent size, holding many keys as well
- carabiner clip for attaching to a backpack etc
- A plastic lanyard for the neck
- A pen clip for attaching to pocket or collar
The iPod goes into the skin through the cut-out for the ON switch. This gives a grippy iPod, which is well protected from scratches and accidental knocks.
The caps did not all fit the iPod well. They click in to place with small lugs fitting the indents on the iPod USB connector, but they did not all stay put. Best fit was the pen cap; perhaps due to the way the pen clip exerted more grip on the skin and it stayed in place. This is the one that I will use most.
The carabiner cap has a poor fit and I wouldn't trust it to hold my iPod on a backpack while walking around. I imagine that the clip could be adjusted but I wouldn't use it as is.
The skin: The controls remained easy to use with the skin in place. The skin enhanced the handling of the iPod, as it made it easier to hold. The small LED used to indicate all functions, is not as visible through the skin in bright sunlight, but this was no big deal.
I like my iPod Shuffle. I was interested to try out a "Connect & Protect" because I bike to work each day with my Shuffle in a jacket pocket. Yes, I bike through the elements and my poor Shuffle just seemed so exposed. At work I typically leave the Shuffle lying enticingly on my desk or else rustling in my bag. A SkinTight cover, I thought, would provide protection enough that I could safely leave my Shuffle in my pocket as a keyring.
The result was, well, mixed. The out of pack experience was less than thrilling. In fact it was pretty disappointing - even confusing. There was a SkinTight (white, other colours you can be separately include black, pink, green, blue and red) with four caps, and all looked very BIG and unusable. The protective sheath itself made my poor Shuffle resemble the Michelin Man (whose real name was Bibendum according to Wikipedia - but that's not relevant). The keyring was not a subtle one - it looked like a 80s earring. In fact it is so wide that a Shuffle can pass through it. Not a pocket-sized keyring! Additional caps include a carabiner (useful for belt loops), a plastic necklace cap and a shirt pocket-clip (for Shuffle nerds). The caps fit very snugly so there is no danger of the Shuffle coming lose in transit.
I have to admit that my first impression of the Connect & Protect was "ah well, just get on with the evaluation?