Developer: Contour Design
Requirements: Third-Generation iPod
I love my iPod, but it definitely presents a conundrum. On the one hand, I want to protect it against scratches and blemishes. On the other hand, I want to show it off to people! I think the iPod is a remarkable combination of form and function and it seems a shame to cover it in a protective, but concealing, case.
The Contour Showcase attempts to address both of these concerns. While not offering as many features as the Marware SportSuit Convertible I reviewed several months ago, the combination of the Showcase and the iPod just oozes style that most other cases cannot even dream of matching.
The Showcase’s shell consists of rigid white rubber with clear plastic covering the iPod’s face and back. The clear plastic has four cutouts for the iPod’s control buttons and a larger cutout for the scroll wheel. I think the cutouts are a hair smaller than the controls that they cover, but I’m not completely certain—it could just be the way the light is playing off the edge of the plastic on the Showcase and the iPod. In any case, the openings weren’t small enough to cause me any problems.
The front of the Showcase allows easy access to the iPod’s controls.
Based on my admittedly rough estimates, the clear plastic on the back looks like it’s positioned to allow any engraving to show through. The plastic extends far enough down the back to expose the Apple logo and the size of the iPod.
Even from the back, everybody will know you have an iPod.
The rubber casing has four openings on it—one at the top, one at the bottom, and two on the back. The top opening lets you access the headphone jack, the remote control port, and the hold switch. You can attach a cable or cover to the Dock connector via the bottom opening. The bottom opening is easily large enough to remove the Dock connector cover without any trouble. The two openings on the back are for connecting the included belt clip.
The back of the Showcase has two raised rubber ridges, so you can place it on flat services with minimal concern of scratching the clear plastic.
The Showcase features a clamshell design that is hinged along the left side of the iPod and has a slim clip along the right. There are six rubber pads on both the front and back of the inside of the case that stabilize the iPod.
Getting your iPod in and out of the Showcase is simple with its clamshell design.
Since the iPod comes in two different physical sizes, it can be somewhat difficult to design a rigid case that works with all the third-generation models. Contour solves this problems by including a foam rubber pad that fits in the back of the Showcase and makes up the difference in width between the thicker and thinner iPods. Of course, if you’re using the rubber pad, you won’t see your iPod through the clear plastic in the back.
The Showcase’s removable belt clip attaches so the Showcase can be worn horizontally. Having worn other iPod and cell phone cases, I find this more comfortable than vertical cases.
The design of the clip makes it possible to wear the Showcase in a few different manners. Most people will probably wear the Showcase on the left or right side of their belt. The belt clip can be attached so that either the top or the bottom of the iPod is facing forward on either side of your body. It’s really a matter of personal preference.
The belt clip separates easily from Showcase using a spring-mounted latch that can be operated one-handed. Re-attaching the case to the belt clip is a touch more difficult, but it’s not a serious impediment. I usually find myself resorting to two hands for this operation, especially if the clip is still attached to my belt.
The Showcase costs the same $40 as the SportSuit Convertible I looked at in September. At the time, I stated that the Marware case was more expensive than a number of other iPod cases, but you definitely got what you paid for. While it’s true that a number of cases cost less than $40, there are also cases that cost a good deal more. While I haven’t actually handled any of these high-priced cases, it looks as though you are often paying for style over protection and function. With the Showcase, though, I really feel like you get everything you could want in an iPod case—the rubber and plastic shell protects your iPod from falls and scratches, the various openings allow access to all of the iPod’s functions, and its understated styling accents the iPod almost perfectly. Although there are other cases that may be more eye-catching, the Showcase has rapidly become my favorite way to encase my iPod.