Contour Design Showcase 4G


posted 10/29/2004 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
Platforms: PC
If you've ever owned an iPod you've probably pondered these two questions: 1) Why does this thing look so sexy? and 2) Where the hell did all those scratches come from? In response to question number 2 a cavalcade of companies started to manufacture iPod cases. There were many but only two remain as viable contenders for market supremacy; the hardcase and the gel case. We've had a chance to sample both breeds in the past and in our best judgments, the hard cases are crucial when it comes to protecting your pricey investment. Of those the best of the bunch was Contour Design's Showcase which offered up the performance of the best hard cases without sacrificing aesthetics. Now the company is back with a case for the new Generation 4 iPods and as was the case with the previous entry, this new one is the one to get.

There are very few differences between the G3 and G4 Showcases so we'll try to do our best to minimize the pain here. If you want a more in-depth review check out our review of the G3 Contour Showcase. Instead we'll try to focus our energy on the feel of the unit in regards to the new iPod. The basic construct is still the same; rubberized material for the outer edges with a plastic surface to protect the face of the unit. Actually, the only key change comes in the face itself and it was done to reflect the changes from the G3 and G4 iPods. If you've seen the G4 iPods you've probably noticed that the four buttons that handle the basic functions of the iPod have been moved. Instead of sitting above the iPod they now sit on the scrollwheel, affording the iPod a much cleaner look. In response, the case removes the four holes that used to accomodates the buttons which leaves the scrollwheel as the sole opening. Otherwise, the units are exactly identical including the opening on the bottom for the cradle and the opening up top for the headphone connectors.

How does the unit perform? Well it's a perfect and natural extension of yoru iPod. The rubberized edges feel great against your skin and don't add too much bulk to the overall unit, making it easy to fit into your pocket. My one gripe with the unit is that the belt clip is still oriented oddly, requiring the unit to clip on its side instead of vertically. Personally, I don't use the belt clip but I've had some readers complain to me about it. When reflecting upon it I can definitely see how this could be annoying and cumbersome. Also, the opening on the top still isn't large enough to accomodate third-party additions such as the Griffin iTrip or the Griffin iTalk. In order to use those devices you'll have to remove the case entirely, rendering it useless. It was a real pain for me at E3 this year as I used the iTalk as my recording device when talking with developers. I had to leave the case at home when I made the trek down to Los Angeles.

These small gripes aside, the Contour Design Showcase is still the best iPod case available on the market. If you're serious about protecting that shiny new investment run out and pick up a G4 showcase. It might put a dent in your wallet but the protection it'll offer up is priceless.

It's essentially the same unit with a few practical changes to match the layout of the G4 iPod. Personally I hate the G4 but I can't fault the Contour for simply matching the design. Thus, it's effectively the same as the G3 case and thus, it shall receive the same marks.

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