Review: XtremeMac MicroShield
Ever since iPods have become more of a portable entertainment medium, as opposed to just an MP3 player, cases that allow easy access to controls for long amounts of time have grown more popular. Flip-covers, doors, and other added security items have been left behind, as they beckon back to the days of PDA cases—usually there was a large screen that had to be protected and the device would only be used at certain intervals for a long period of time. iPods, on the other hand, have tracks changed, photos shown, and even videos watched all throughout the course of a day.
XtremeMac’s latest case, the $25 MicroShield is direct competition for hard cases, such as Contour Design’s iSee-video. Both cases are made of clear plastic, allowing the iPod “look” to come through without adding extra bulk. Although they will not protect from sudden drops or other major catastrophes, hard cases protect against scratches and allow the iPod to still be pocketable.
MicroShield + iPod
MicroShield (Back View)
The MicroShield is a relatively simple product. There are two versions—one for either sized fifth-generation iPod. Two halves make up the case. One snaps over the front, protecting the screen and surrounding areas, as well as having a cutout for the scroll wheel. The other snaps on the back, protecting the shiny metal from scratches. What is interesting is that two back pieces are included—one with a spring-loaded belt clip and one without. Both back pieces also feature zigzag rubber grips to prevent scratches on the back of the iPod.
The belt clip is fairly sturdy, but can only be used in the keep-the-iPod-vertical fashion. Since many people who do use iPod cases with belt clips like to keep the iPod horizontal, this might be a drawback.
Furthermore, the MicroShield’s “halves” attach to the iPod independently by snapping onto it. Therefore, you can keep both of them on, or leave the iPod’s back or front naked—good if you need to use certain other accessories. They do require some effort to remove, so your iPod shouldn’t fall off your belt in normal use or have the case fall off.
The other thing that should be noted about the MicroShield is that the top and bottom of the iPod are completely exposed at all times. Although this is handy for bottom-mounted accessories and some docking accessories, we find the exposed top to be a bit questionable. Since the only usable things are the hold switch and the headphone jack, it might have made sense to cover the other areas. Still, the exposed areas are the easily-smudged, easily-scratched metal areas, so this doesn’t help the MicroShield’s case (pardon the pun) for tougher users.
We used the MicroShield for a few weeks and found it to be a great minimalist case. The switchable back panels is a creative and slightly more solid method when compared to the removable belt clip the iSee-video has. Although we wouldn’t recommend it to people who are rough on their iPods, it does provide enough protection against scratches and minor bumps, as well as not taking away from the iPod’s design.
The One-Sentence Verdict™
If you can live with slightly less protection on the top and bottom of the iPod than the iSee-video, XtremeMac’s MicroShield offers easier access for accessories and a similar design.
Pros: Solid protection, doesn’t take away from iPod’s appearance, two back pieces (one with a belt clip, one without), compatible with some accessories, case “halves” can be used independently
Cons: Top and bottom of iPod completely exposed, more scratch-prone than cloth/leather cases, no shock protection