Review: iSkin vs. cheap eBay case

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by kf6tac, Dec 10, 2007.

  1. kf6tac

    kf6tac New Member

    Nov 21, 2007
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    iSkin finally rolled in my order today, so as promised, here is my review and comparison with a case from eBay that I picked up to protect my Touch during the wait.

    First, here is a link to the item listing that I bought on eBay:

    The seller is Hong Kong based, and has countless many identical item listings.

    In terms of straight up dollars, without considering features, the eBay case clearly wins hands down, costing me a cool $6.90 including shipping from Hong Kong. The iSkin, which shipped for free, cost $29.99.

    I didn't closely track the shipping speed of the eBay case, but it was quick, even though it was from Hong Kong. A little over a week at most. iSkin took a full 8 business days (one more than the max. on the range they specified, 5-7) to process my order and then shipped it. UPS got it to me in Manhattan in about three days (FYI, according to my friends, it's about an 8 hour drive from Manhattan to Toronto, including breaks). I'd say the eBay case slightly edges out the iSkin on shipping and processing.

    Stuff included:
    The eBay case came with a full-front (minus the beveled edges) screen protector and a cheap basic armband. The iSkin came with a screen-only screen protector and the Revo clip. Since I don't really use clips or armbands that much, for me the eBay case wins out because the screen protector is bigger. But if you're a belt clip person, the Revo is a pretty decent clip - the design is reminiscent of the design used on Blackberry holsters.

    Comparing the cases:
    Now the fun part. On initially opening the iSkin, I could tell from touching it that it seemed to be a little thicker and more rigid all around than the eBay case. This is also reflected in the pictures I have taken. I had to stay under the picture limit for this post, so just click on the links for the ones that aren't hotlinked.

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    The iSkin (with the Revo clip to the side) - I just noticed that this picture has the iSkin upside down, but you all get the basic point of it.
    The iSkin from the back (with the Revo clip, still from the front)

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    The eBay case
    The eBay case from the back

    As can be seen from the picture of the eBay case, the silicone in that case is less stiff, so the eBay case has a greater tendency to flap open when sitting around without an iPod in it. For those who are concerned about all around coverage of surfaces, the eBay case also falls a little short, as it has the two vertical slots cut out of the back to accommodate the armband. Obviously, the vertical slots make for easy entrances for dust and dirt. When you remove the Revo clip from the iSkin, the two perforations in the backside are the only openings to the back - and those perforations are actually slits, not round cutouts. And the silicone insert plugs those up pretty well anyway.

    Once you actually stick the iPod into the cases, they don't really look all that different.

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    iPod in the iSkin

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    iPod in the eBay case

    Both cases have a cutout for the light sensor; on the iSkin it's square, and on the eBay case it's round. As a matter of sheer personal preference, I like the square cutout since it fits better with the overall rectangular nature of the iPod, but that doesn't affect the functionality. On the eBay case, the connector cable port and the headphone jack are both exposed - that entire section of the bottom edge is simply left open. There's also a cutout opening for the sleep button on the top edge, and the silicone used to cover the WiFi antenna is thinner (about half the thickness). On the iSkin, the connectors are protected by the port covers, which fit snugly into the ports but appear a little incongruous from the outside.
    Bottom edge of the iSkin with the iPod in, showing the port protectors (closed)

    The sleep button is covered, but has its own demarcation on the top edge. The button is still easily operable through the cover.
    Top edge, showing the coverage of the sleep button

    There is no cutout or thinner area for the WiFi antenna on the iSkin, but that doesn't seem to affect WiFi signal; at least, it doesn't affect it here at my desk, which is all of 3 feet away from my router. There aren't any other unsecured or free WiFi connections in my neighborhood, so I can't really make a good comparison beyond that. The home button cutout on both cases works basically the same. Neither case really has much of a problem with the edges flapping out or anything like that, at least not after the iPod is in there holding the shape. The screen opening on both of them is a little wider than the actual LCD portion of the iPod screen (i.e. some of the black shows), so if you're using either case with a screen-only screen protector instead of a full-front screen protector, there might be some minor gaps in the coverage. I'm currently using the full-front protector that came with the eBay case. It applied easily and has held up well so far, but it does show fingerprints and I usually wipe it down with a microfiber cloth for glasses lenses once a day at the end of the day.

    As far as dust attraction goes, the iSkin does seem to pick up more dust than the eBay case, particularly on the backside, where the iSkin has what appears to be a waffled texture vs. the smooth back (other than the grip ridges) of the eBay case. The waffling on the iSkin seems to make it easier for things like dead skin and dust to get stuck in the waffling, but I was able to wipe it off pretty easily with the same cloth I use to wipe the screen. I also don't carry my iPod in my pants pockets, which seem to be very linty all the time - I carry it in an inside pocket on my jacket (at least during the winter; haven't decided what to do in summer yet), which has a nylon lining, so it's not exposed to much dust or lint anyway. Just for testing I tossed the iSkin into that pocket and shook it around a bit to simulate movement, and it came out looking the same as it did when it went in, which really only proves that my jacket pocket is pretty lint-free. The waffling on the back of the iSkin also gives it a more textured feel, whereas the eBay case just feels smooth and a little slippery. I don't think I have any pictures close up of the texture, but here's a couple of the backs with the iPod in.
    The iSkin
    The eBay case

    Overall thoughts:
    As far as overall protection goes, I'd say the iSkin beats the eBay case. The big question is whether that's worth the extra $23 in price, and I'm not so sure of the answer on that one. If you're working on a budget, or if you already have some sort of full-body protection on your iPod like the Invisible Shield, you can save yourself some money by just getting the eBay case. If you really want the port protectors, you can probably buy the port plugs people were talking about on another thread and still come out ahead. The iSkin is probably a bit overpriced for what it offers, but overall I'm pretty happy with it so far and will most likely keep it. iSkin also offers a niftier selection of color schemes, but I also don't think that alone fully justifies the cost.

    On a random note related to the color schemes, the invoice for my order refers to the red/black combination as "Blade," not "Diablo" as it is called on the website. It's probably just an internal name recognizing that red/black is the color scheme associated with the Marvel comics character. For those wondering about the coloring on the Nighthawk, my invoice refers to it as expresso brown/black while the order tracking on iSkin's website called it grey/black. To my eyes the expresso portion looks to be a very dark grey, and not a very dark brown, but at that level of darkness, it's probably hard to tell the difference anyway. Either way, it looks pretty sharp.
  2. cfreak

    cfreak New Member

    Oct 18, 2007
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    Excellent review...I look forward to receiving my iSkin tomorrow.


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