(Occasionally, manufacturers send CRN authors products to sample. Here’s a review of one such product, sent for review.)
At first sight, the iPod Smart Case with clip from San Francisco-based WaterField Designs is satisfying to my organized mind. It is discreet and sleek. The iPod slides smoothly into the case and stays put, gripped securely between the walls of the hard shell. It fits it like a glove. It calms me to see it look so snug and cozy. It eases my mind to see how protected the iPod looks. It looks prepared to take a bullet. (And, apparently, indeed it probably could!) What’s more, the seams are robust and nothing has started to unravel, which is more than I can say for other cases I’ve tried.
But, talk to the runner in me and, unfortunately, that is where the good feelings end. What calms the control-freak part of my mind—its simplicity and tidiness—is what makes it impractical for me as a running “flipper.” There is no cutaway in the shell of the case to access the iPod controls. Once safely nested in the case, you cannot change anything about playback without removing the iPod from its comfortable nest.
As I can be fickle about my tunes, this is an issue when I run. I can’t simply set a playlist and go with it. I need to be able to jump ahead to the next track if the current one isn’t energizing enough. Occasionally, I like to repeat the songs that make me feel happy, bouncy, and raring to go. Pulling the iPod out of the case to do this makes me nervous when I am trying to keep my stride steady and undisturbed (as well as not landing myself in a face plant).
Another disadvantage for runners is that the way the clip is designed. It is bulky and thus sets the iPod away from your body. This results in some hip slapping as you run. While this is a good way to keep a beat, it becomes irritating the further you go.
The iPod Smart Case is compact and durable. It is discreet and doesn’t scream “expensive electronic equipment right here!” At $29-$39 US, it is priced reasonably in terms of similar cases out there. However functionally, for runners, and especially those that like to flip around while they run, it doesn’t seem like the best option. Though I’m glad for the protection, it doesn’t offer quick access to the iPod’s controls for those times when I need to jump ahead to my power song. Unfortunately, to me and what I need as a runner, that is a big drawback to an otherwise desirable case.