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Review - Capsules
Friday, December 16th, 2005 at 1:00 AM - by
Looking to differentiate itself from the masses of iPod case makers out there, the folks at SwitchEasy have delivered their second product to date: Capsules. The plastic case encapsulates (get it?) your iPod nano, offering complete protection while the translucent faceplate shows off the front of your iPod nano.
Installation is plenty straightforward: separate the face plate from the opaque bottom by pinching its sides and lifting, then drop your iPod in, top-end first. Snap the faceplate back on and you're good to go. It's a painless procedure that's easy enough to undo, which is a good thing since you'll have to every time you want to charge the iPod since the Capsule covers the dock connector.
Each Capsule includes a color-coordinated lanyard if wearing your nano is your thing, although installing it requires the minor annoyance of threading it with a pin. Also included is a matching "Stickie," an adhesive-less cling that protects the click wheel and dresses it up to match the Capsule. Black nano owners take note: of the five currently available colors, all but the black capsule feature Stickies with a white center dot, should that sort of thing matter to you.
"Shaved Ice" Capsule
Each Capsule tints your nano's lens according to its color. The red capsule, for example, gives everything a red hue—great if red is your favorite color, less great if you enjoy your nano's screen au naturale. If that's the case, however, there's always the clear/white capsule, or our favorite, the black capsule, whose front looks totally nondescript until the screen lights up. The black faceplate does tint the screen darker, however, although that might be appreciated in low-light conditions.
Like other cases that encapsulate your iPod, the Capsule suffers from the design flaw that limits its compatibility to headphone jacks with a width of 6.5mm or narrower. All L-shaped connectors are also off-limits. I've noted it before, but it would be ideal if companies that sold cases like this included a short mini-jack extension plug to eliminate this shortcoming.
"Black Amber" Capsule
Perhaps a bigger annoyance is that the Capsule's polished-looking faceplates scratch almost too easily. SwitchEasy does plan on selling spare faceplates for a nominal price in the future, however, and the important part is that your iPod stays mint while you show it off with a bit more protection than basic scratch-proofing films.
The Bottom Line
SwitchEasy's Capsules are a clever idea. While the shiny plastic faceplate is about as prone to scratches as the iPod nano itself, better the faceplate takes a licking than your nano. As long as you keep in mind that the Capsules aren't as bomb-proof as similar aluminum cases for the iPod shuffle that are held together with screws, they provide a pleasant alternative to the world of silicone.
Just The Facts
Pros: simple protection, preserves nano's proportions and appearance
Cons: faceplates scratch easily, accomodates only narrow headphone jacks
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