Matias Corporation iPod Armor + Armor Clip
Approx $75 Cdn
Click here for lots of high res photos!
I'm a real fan of Apple's iPod. Well actually, let me put it this way: I LOVE the iPod!
The ability to take my entire music collection with me wherever I go (to borrow a quote from an Apple commercial) "makes me feel powerful." The iPod, in my not so humble opinion, is one of the coolest gadgets in the world and I think the almost one million other iPod owners would agree. And like the many other iPod owners, I want to keep my iPod as safe and scratch-free as possible.
There are a plethora of cases available for the iPod including Apple's own case that comes with several iPod models or is available to be purchased separately. Most are soft or flexible shelled and don't provide real solid protection for your iPod if it takes a hard bump.
Enter the iPod Armor & Armor Clip, an aluminum hard-shell case for your iPod.
I think whether one likes this case or not depends on how you use your iPod. Like I said, I love my iPod and take it with me almost everywhere I go, which is the real world. In a perfect world, I would have lots of time for casual walks around the block merrily listening to one of my 768 songs. In the real world, my iPod tags along in the car, sliding around in my minivan's console compartment, often banging around as it slides around sharp turns. Or the iPod gets chucked into my carrying case/backpack along with my other geek toys like my laptop, digital camera and headphones etc. In addition to my three kids, my wife also operates a home daycare and the last thing I want is my iPod to be a chew toy for one of the rug rats.
I'm also a pretty active guy and like to take my iPod with me on aggressive walks up and down hills and while I'm riding a mountain bike as well. The iPod Armor case gives me piece of mind having a complete hard shell protecting my beloved iPod, while still giving it a pretty cool appearance.
The protection doesn't only come from the outer aluminum case. Inside the case you'll find a thin foam lining to protect your iPod from pretty much all sides. The foam lines the whole interior, which prevents the iPod from actually touching any aluminum. The only spot there isn't foam is the top where there are openings to access the iPod's hold switch, line-out and FireWire port (On older versions of the iPod where the FireWire port is on top).
Having this level of protection comes at the cost of functionality. Obviously, with the iPod almost completely covered, you don't have access to the front controls of the iPod. This isn't really that big of a problem though as the Armor case does open fairly wide, easily exposing all the iPod's front controls. A Matias representative tells me the newer Armor case specifically designed for the new version of the iPods is designed to open and close even easier. The model that I had for the older iPods could have been a little easier to open. I also have the wired remote control for the iPod, so opening and closing the case isn't that big of deal to me as I can operate the volume, pause/play and fast forward/rewind controls from the remote. I'd rather have the increased protection over the access to the buttons on the iPod.
I found my iPod to be very snug in the case to the point where it was quite difficult to get the iPod in and out of the case. This is not that big of a problem on the older versions of the iPod where you can access all the ports from the top of the case. The new iPods have their FireWire ports at the bottom. However, that said, the Matias rep also informed me that the new case makes it easier to remove the iPod in and out of the case, an important feature for the new iPod where you'll have to remove the iPod to charge-up its battery.
The appearance of the case is pretty slick, although not as good looking as the iPod itself, but not too shabby. At first, I wasn't to sure about the front of the case, which has the shape of the iPod's display and buttons embossed on the front aluminum. On closer examination, the embossing may actually serve a purpose as the buttons of the iPod do stick out a bit and the effect just might give it that extra bit of space. Even if it is there just for pure looks, it doesn't look too bad. The aluminum case does have a certain classy feel to it. Kind of like from the older movies where you'd see some suave and debonair fellow reach in his suit jacket to pull out a fancy case to open up and offer the lady a cigarette (Not that smoking is classy, mind you).
The iPod Armor case can also be fitted with an optional or packaged belt clip, which "sticks" on to the back of the case. I was a little skeptical at first as to how the clip would stick to the back of the smooth aluminum case. The answer is quite simple really! Once you apply the hook for the clip, that sucker isn't coming off, and let me tell you - I tried really hard! The belt clip seems really rugged and well constructed. It's much better than the belt clip that comes on Apple's case which I've seen break on two occasions. The clip on the Armor case has a very strong spring with solid looking connectors. Everything about the Armor case seems rugged and durable. The belt clip swivels very freely as well. Handy if you need to sit down with the iPod clipped in. The clip also features a sturdy belt clip release lever to unclip the iPod and case. Putting the case back in the belt clip is very simple and gives a confidence inspiring and very distinctive "click" when inserted.
Another added bonus is that the iPod actually runs cooler in the Armor case as aluminum is a great thermal conductor. This is especially important when you use the iPod as a FireWire drive. When doing so, the drive can get quite hot due to constant drive activity. When the iPod is resting on a wooden desk, it can get quite hot as well making things worse. The Armor case elevates the iPod off the desk allowing air and heat to flow better, which, much like a CPU heatsink, carries away the heat of the iPod inside.
Another nice little addition to the iPod Armor are little white tabs at the bottom of the case which allow the it to balance with the case's door hinge so that the iPod can stand upright. If you've ever tried to stand an older or new generation iPod upright, you'll know that this feature really comes in handy.
The iPod Armor case probably isn't for every type of iPod owner. With the case on, the whole iPod setup does feel a fair bit heavier and adds considerable bulk to the iPod making it more difficult to slide in your pocket. However, if you're into aggressive sports where you like to listen to music like skate-boarding, skiing, mountain-biking or rock-climbing - then the iPod armor case provides excellent protection and piece of mind in case you wipe out and land on your iPod or, heaven forbid, you actually drop your iPod. I obviously didn't test-out dropping my iPod, but I bet the iPod could take a significant drop without being damaged.
There's a bit of trade off in this much protection in terms of being able to access the iPod controls, but they are very minor thanks to the single door which can be opened easy enough to access all the controls. And besides, when you're doing that slide down a stairway guardrail, who has time to pick a different song!
What ehMax likes:
- Excellent protection
- Peace of mind
- Kind of classy looking
- Easy access to top ports
- Fairly easy to get at other controls
- Very strong & rugged belt clip
- Able to stand the iPod up horizontally
What ehMax dislikes:
- Makes iPod a little heavy
- Hard to insert & remove iPod from case (Older version)
- Hold switch a little hard to operate on 5GB iPod
ehMax gives it:
thanks to EnvyNews.com
and to Matias Corporation
for providing the hardware and other logistics for this review. Visit EnvyNews.com
for more cool hardware reviews with lots of Mac specific reviews where there will soon be lots more to come!!!
[ June 15, 2003, 09:10 PM: Message edited by: ehMax ]