video iPods and essential mobile accessories

listening equipment reviews

Apple Video iPods

The Video iPod Electronic Accessories
Griffin iTrip Dock Connector Model
Griffin iTrip Auto
Griffin iTrip for iPod Nano
Griffin PowerBlock Power Adapter
Griffin PowerMate Controller
Griffin AirClick Dock Connector Model
Griffin AirClick USB Model
Griffin EarThumps
Griffin iFM Dock Connector Model
Griffin iMid USB Audio Interface
Griffin TuneCenter
Griffin BlueTrip
StarTech MP3 Airlink

The iPod Video Cases
Contour Designs Video Showcase
Contour Designs iSee
Vaja Cases Classic
Vaja Cases iVolution
Griffin Vizor

One More Thing
iCleaner Pro

reviews © Musical Discoveries Staff 2003-2007
images used with permission
post comments to our discussion board
last updated 20 January 2007

In September 2003 Musical Discoveries' editorial staff began the process of migrating away from using CDs and various players for listening to material we review. While the staff still prefer CDs for a myriad of reasons, especially the quality of the accompanying artwork and ultimate sound quality of playback equipment, the opportunity to carry a large selection of material in a small and lightweight digital package drew significant attention.

Previous articles by Musical Discoveries editors included comments on the 3G iPod and iPod mini. This update deals with the latest accessories for the video iPod. Internet resources on this subject are vast and this article is meant to share our experience to date and to fill in some blanks for newcomers and experienced users alike. We welcome your comments on the article either in our discussion board or site updates pages.

Apple Video iPod

The premium portable music player is certainly Apple's iPod, a cigarette pack-size, hard disc-based music jukebox. On offer today are the nano models in 1GB, 2GB and 4GB sizes. Full size video iPods are available in 30GB and 60GB formats. Battery life has been substantially improved in the latest models.

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Image © Apple Computer Corp 2006

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Image © Apple Computer Corp 2006

Apple's iTunes was released for PCs in October 2003. The latest versions provide substantially more functionality and will convert mp4 to a format compatible with the video iPods. The iPod requires an accompanying computer: either a Mac or a PC. The Mac typically connects via Firewire whilst the PC connects via USB-2. The accompanying software's primary functions are to manage the computer's music library, "rip" (convert) CDs to mp3 (or other formats) and to manage the transfer of the resulting compressed files to the iPod. The iPod supports other formats.

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Image © Apple Computer Corp 2003

The iPod player is an extremely solid unit. The new fifth generation product used by our staff uses the new clickwheel on the face and a hold switch on the top as the user interface. A touch sensitive scroll wheel that is used to navigate the menus and the glorious full color LCD are the centrepiece of the design. Menus are easily followed and navigated with the scroll wheel and button in its centre. An audible "clicker" can be enabled to heighten the experience.

The front of the iPod is actually a clear cover to the surface beneath except in the area of the LCD. Cutouts in the clear cover provide access to the scrollwheel; the clear cover actually. Height and width dimensions of all third fourth and fifth generation iPods are the same; the thickness of the video iPods is substantially thinner. The majority of the sides and all of the back of the unit are mirrored silver and quite prone to finger prints, the only continuing annoyance of the otherwise stunning mechanical package. The fifth generation units are also prone to scratching to handle with care or use a case to protect it.

The iPod is comprised of a hard disc drive, battery, electronics and user interface. The packaging of these components has been well honed and by this fifth generation they are flawless. The unit will accept firmware updates from control software that is installed on your base computer.

From our first week with it, the video iPod proved to be easy to use and an essential component in our mobile lifestyle.

Further Information. Interested visitors should browse, a robust source of inspiration for all iPod enthusiasts. The technically oriented site called is also worth a visit. Read further reviews, check out online specials and order the iPod from here.

The Video iPod Electronic Accessories

Griffin iTrip Dock Connector

Unlike previous iTrip models that required that special tones--stored as mp3 files on the iPod--to be used to change broadcast channels, the iTrip Dock Connector is tuned with a knob, just like a radio. With more than just improved controls, the newest iTrip is just slightly bigger than the previous model for full-sized iPods. This one bears a good-sized LCD on the left side of the device and a silver control knob on the right. The knob acts both as a dial and as a button. To tune in a station, just plug the iTrip into the dock-connector of any iPod, start the iPod playing. Then turn the control knob until the LCD displays the station desired, and press the knob to lock in the station.

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Image © Griffin Technology 2006

The iTrip's LCD lights up when you twist the control knob, making it easy to see what you're doing even under poorly lit conditions. Shortly after turning the knob, the display dims. The LCD continues to display the currently selected channel as long as the iPod is awake. When the iPod goes to sleep, the display disappears as well. When the iPod awakens, the display won't appear again until the iPod is started.

The iTrip LCD also welcomes so new features. To begin with, it can transmit in either LX or DX mode. In LX mode, the iTrip transmits in stereo. DX mode switches the iTrip to a stronger mono signal. Some audio content sounds almost identical in mono or stereo. Since DX mode produces a stronger, clearer signal, it should be used when the iPod is some distance away from the receiver.

The iTrip will attempt to automatically set the optimal volume. However, for some high volume content, the adjust the iPod's volume should be adjusted to a lower level to prevent distortion. For most audio content, an easy way to set volume levels is to turn the iPod all the way up and let the iTrip adjust its output level and then adjust the volume on your receiver to a comfortable listening level.

The new iTrip is impressive. It offers reasonable range in LX mode and outstanding range when launched into DX mode. Its controls are intuitive. One should consider using the iTrip with an auto power adapter during long raod trips since the iTrip LCD uses the iPod's battery as its power source.

Read further reviews and order the iTrip from here. A great addition to any of the dock connector iPod, the well-made iTrip is an essential for mobile listening.

Griffin iTrip Auto

The iTrip Auto, the newest addition to the iTrip lineup by Griffin, is the most versatile iTrip to date, accommodating every dock connector iPod, including iPod nano and 5th Generation iPods with video. The iTrip Auto is also compatible with 3rd, 4th and video iPods, as well as all iPod minis and iPod nanos. iTrip Auto combines Griffin's renowned FM transmitter technology with an integrated battery charger.

iTrip Auto uses the audio line out from the iPod's dock connector and optimizes the output volume. Speaker volume can be controlled solely from the car stereo controls, without having to adjust the iPod's volume level.

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Image © Griffin Technology 2006

iTrip Auto brings with it all the innovations of its iTrip lineage, including selectable LX and DX modes for best-quality audio under real-world conditions, US and International tuning modes, Griffin's RF technology, and the trademark Griffin world-class industrial design. Designed specifically for use in the car, iTrip Auto's large, easy-to-read backlit LCD screen affords quick, precise station selection and easy status at a glance.

Read further reviews and order the iTrip from here. A great addition to any of the late model docking iPod, the well-made iTrip auto is an essential for mobile listening.

Griffin iTrip for iPod Nano

Griffin has introduced the latest version of its FM-transmitting plug-in. This new device has been redesigned from the ground up for the nano. Apple's thinnest player to date slides into the dock of the iTrip, being firmly held by micro grip technology. The combined devices only bulk up slightly, keeping for the most part the nano's slim form.

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Image © Griffin Technology 2006

The iTrip for iPod nano lets users transmit audio emanating from their nano to the FM frequency of their choosing in countries where FM transmission devices are legal. As with previous iTrip products, the newest addition draws its power directly from the battery of the iPod nano itself, connecting via the nano's dock and headphone connectors whilst offering USB passthrough for charging and connectivity.

Users are able to select mono or stereo modes via the nano-controlled user interface, with the iTrip for iPod nano also storing the last three used station presets. Also present is support for US, international and Japanese tuning modes, as well as Griffin's SmartSound automatic volume adjustment technology.

Read further reviews and order the iTrip from here. A great addition to either of the iPod nanos, the well-made iTrip nano is an essential for mobile listening.

Griffin PowerBlock

The PowerBlock is roughly the same size as Apple AC adapter, but rather than sticking out of the wall, it hugs it, much like any other AC adapter. The plug itself folds when not in use. Included with the PowerBlock is a USB-to-Dock Connector cable. The cable looks and acts like the Apple one, with the only difference being a Griffin logo on the dock connector.

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Image © Griffin Technology 2006

The only real advantage of this AC adapter over Apple's is the included cable. Other than that, both chargers are priced about the same, work all over the world, and can be used to charge other USB devices (such as Palm handhelds and other MP3 players), although the iPod is the main focus. The PowerBlock is compact and ideal for business and other travel.

In conclusion, the PowerBlock is a well-made, attractive alternative to Apple's iPod USB Power Adapter, with an included iPod-to-USB cable that's the equivalent of Apple's in quality. It provides quality wall charging for iPods, nanos, and shuffles.

Read further reviews and order the PowerBlock from here. A great addition to any iPod, the well-made PowerBlock nano is an essential for mobile listening.

Griffin PowerMate

The Griffin PowerMate is a clever USB input device which functions as an assignable controller. The user can program it to do just about anything in Windows or Mac applications. With the included software, you can customize it even further based on your needs.

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Image © Griffin Technology 2006

Read further reviews and order the PowerMate from here. A great addition to any home system, the well-made PowerMate is an essential for your listening pleasure.

Griffin AirClick Dock Connector

The Griffin AirClick for the docking iPods lets you hook up your iPod to your sound system and wander through the house while in full control of your tunes. Or better yet, put your iPod in your car and attach the remote to your steering wheel and run it easily.

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Image © Griffin Technology 2006

AirClick uses RF signals that travel through walls for control anywhere in your home or outside, up to 60 feet away. The five button remote allows for play/pause, next track, previous track, and volume up and down. A hold switch on the side prevents accidentally disturbing your musical nirvana. The remote has a clip on it for convenient attachment. iPod and iPod mini packages include a convenient remote holder with velcro straps to allow attachment as an armband or to a bicycle frame or steering wheel.

Each AirClick receiver has the ability to be paired to any remote unit and a single remote can control both the AirClick iPod and the AirClick USB. One remote can control both the AirClick iPod and the AirClick USB, or if two AirClick remotes are being used in close proximity, they could be paired to individual units, allowing maximum flexibility.

Read further reviews and order the AirClick at here. The AirClick is a great addition to your iPod with dock connector.

Griffin AirClick USB

Griffin came up with another useful solution to controlling some Apple products without having to click your mouse or use the scroll wheel on your iPod. The premise is that you snap a relatively small USB adapter into your computer, install some packaged software, and a remote controls iTunes -- remotely. The AirClick is basically a small remote designed to wirelessly skip through the active library in iTunes (it will play through your iPod if you start it playing in your iPod's song list, or similarly a networked play list).

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Image © Griffin Technology 2003

Griffin managed to keep the AirClick really simple - it's got the basic amenities like play/pause, skip forward, skip backward and volume controls. There's a hold switch that simply stops the remote buttons from doing anything, and if you hold the skip buttons down they seek rather than skip. Since there's a seek feature there's a small delay when skipping songs (to account for attempted seeking) and those who are not so quick when releasing the buttons may find themselves accidentally seeking rather than skipping. The bulk of the AirClick's functionality resides not in the remote, but instead in the minimal software package that ships with the product.

The software that Griffin provides installs very easily and runs just as well, but don't expect it to add much functionality. It provides an easy-to-use interface for selecting whether you'd like to use iTunes, Windows Media Player, or PowerPoint as the software to be affected by all your button pushing, but there's a few small caveats. If you select iTunes and iTunes isn't open, pressing buttons doesn't do much, WMP on the other hand will open for you, and PowerPoint behaves much as you expect--it doesn't react unless you open a slideshow of some sort.

Another interesting feature Griffin decided to include is to display a handy notification of what button you just pressed as an overlay on your screen. Now, this screen comes up no matter what you do, and it goes away after a short time (approx. one second), but there's no way to turn it off. If you click on anything while the display is up your clicks respond as you'd expect, but the screen doesn't go away. The application will always run in the tray, and there's no exit button, though nothing is really active unless the USB adapter is plugged in. One last issue occurs only with iTunes--when closing iTunes the user receives a handy alert that there's an application using its scripting interface and that it will close in 20 seconds or by the click of your mouse. Not that this is unexpected, but even if iTunes is not the target of the AirClick software's button pushes this alert still pops up.

Don't take all these software complaints the wrong way, the hardware is very reliable, and the software operates just fine as long as you don't want to close iTunes or automatically open it. The AirClick is a great product, the software that ships with it seems to be slightly lacking and immature but expect Griffin to release updates that resolve some of these "issues" and maybe add functionality or features. The AirClick is definitely a device to own and is well worth the the money for its ease of use and reliability. With some time to mature the associated software this device will make an invaluable remote-control tool for those looking to move away from their computer and listen to music from afar.

Read further reviews and order the AirClick USB at here. The AirClick USB is a great addition to USB-equipped laptop and desktop PCs running iTunes.

Griffin EarThumps

EarThumps were designed specifically for use with iPod and have excellent noise isolation and responsive bass. They ship with three different-sized silicone inserts to fit all ear sizes and include a cool nylon zippered carrying case.

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Image © Griffin Technology 2006

Griffin EarThumps deliver clean, transparent, atmospheric highs and deep, low bass. EarThumps increase your iPod listening experience by an order of magnitude, and come in either Status Symbol White or Undercover Black to match the newer iPods.

Read further reviews and order the EarThumps at here. The EarThumps are a good addition to any iPod or mobile listening device.

Griffin iFM Docking Connector

Griffin Technology's iFM makes FM radio listening without lugging along a portable FM radio. And that's not all. It's a remote control, it records FM, and it's compact like you'd expect for your iPod. iFM is a very compact, mini shaped iPod that connects via a cord with a connection for your earbuds that also acts as an antennae for better reception.

The iFM requires absolutely no access to your iPod in order to listen to a broadcast; it just needs to be connected so it can draw power. This means you can leave your iPod tucked away in a bag with a cord leading to the iFM, which can be clipped to your pocket.

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Image © Griffin Technology 2006

On the right side, there are two rocker switches to adjust the volume, switch tracks, or switch frequencies. It stores up to six preset stations and can be adjusted for tuning ranges in the United States, Europe, and Japan. If you do decide to listen to music stored on your iPod instead of the radio, simply shut off the iFM's switch. There is a red button, that if pushed in, will record the FM station. iFM also has the ability to record voice memos easily with it's built in microphone, saving you from having to carry a microphone adapter.

In conclusion, the iFM is a very cool device, combining a remote, an FM receiver/recorder, and a basic voice recorder in one small device.

Read further reviews and order the iFM at here. The iFM is a great addition to any iPod with docking connector.

Griffin iMic USB Audio Interface

The iMic universal audio adapter is a USB device that adds a stereo input and output to your Mac or PC. The iMic supports both line and Mic level input as well as line level output for any USB capable computer. The iMic is both Mac and PC compatible, though owners of pre-OS X and pre-Windows XP operating systems may not be able to enjoy its full array of features.

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Image © Griffin Technology 2006

The iMic looks like a compact version of the sleek power adapters that come with iBooks. Installation is effortless; simply plug the iMic into a USB port and you're ready to go. By using USB, the iMic provides significantly superior audio input and output performance over built in audio. The iMic is a must have product for people who are serious about getting high quality audio in or out of their computers.

The iMic comes with a quick start manual, but it's minimal, which could make it a bit confusing to operate for people who don't have recording experience. The iMic is great for a variety of uses, from recording voice and instruments to converting LPs and cassettes into digital formats. It also has great audio quality at an affordable price, it plugs conveniently into USB port and sets up easily, and is compatible with both Macs and PCs.

Read further reviews and order the iFM at here. The iMic is a great addition to any home media system.

Griffin PowerPod

This great little device is a cigarette lighter adapter that produces an iPod compatible power signal on the firewire cable that is part of the 3G iPod package. Most impressive is the innovation of using the existing cable rather than introducing yet another.

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Image © Griffin Technology 2003

Fit and finish is good, like the iTrip, maybe a bit better. The device is neither too big nor too small and it's plenty rugged, a good thing for road warrior compatibility. Griffin, like with the iTrip, have gone to the trouble of offering it in Apple lookalike packaging as well. A nice touch.

Read further reviews and order the PowerPod from here. A great addition to your iPod, the precision quality of the PowerPod makes it another essential for mobile listening.

Griffin TuneCenter

Griffin Technology has recently announced the TuneCenter Home Media Center for iPod. Attach TuneCenter to your television and stereo for viewing photos, watching video, listening to your iPod music library or internet radio. With the included 14 button remote, TuneCenter turns your iPod into a complete Home Media Center. Just dock the iPod into TuneCenter, and let the entertainment begin.

The TuneCenter offers a small footprint and a sleek, understated design that should mesh with many home entertainment setups. The back of the unit houses all the clearly labeled ports you'll need: S-Video (cable not included), A/V out (RCA cable included), DC in (it charges your iPod, too), and even an Ethernet port, which allows you to pick up Internet radio. There's also a switch for choosing between NTSC (for the U.S. and Japan) and PAL (for most of Europe) modes.

Among TuneCenter's innovations is the ability to display iPod playlists and song information on your TV screen. TuneCenter's remote allows navigation of the entire iPod library, as well as preferences such as shuffle and repeat modes, and EQ. Use TuneCenter's remote to fast forward, rewind, choose next/previous song, browse playlists etc. The TuneCenter, however, will only display album and track information. The ability to display artwork at the same time has not been included.

Use TuneCenter to display your iPod's photos on the large screen. Display slideshows of your latest vacation, special events etc. Take TuneCenter with you for the most compact business presentation system ever. Simply choose a slideshow and soundtrack and let 'er rip. TuneCenter's remote keeps you in control.

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Image © Griffin Technology 2006

When it comes to watching movies, the bigger the better. Your iPod with video is the best way to carry your movies around; but the best place for watching movies and video is on your home entertainment system.

If you're looking for a way to integrate your iPod into your home entertainment system, Griffin's TuneCenter fits the bill; just be sure to set it up in direct line of sight of your favorite chair. TuneCenter also plays internet radio stations. Choose from thousands of free channels ranging from quiet atmospheres to things that don't technically qualify as music--your call. Just plug TuneCenter into your network. If you have a wireless access point, you can stream audio wirelessly from the internet. And you can do it all with on-screen navigation.

Use TuneCenter to display your iPod's photos on the large screen. Display slideshows of your latest vacation, special events etc. Take TuneCenter with you for the most compact business presentation system ever. Simply choose a slideshow and soundtrack and let 'er rip. TuneCenter's remote keeps you in control.

Read further reviews and order the TuneCenter from here. A great addition to your iPod and home theater, the extensive capability of the TuneCenter makes it an essential for home listening.

Griffin BlueTrip

BlueTrip delivers the pristine CD-quality sound that iPod users desire in a high-quality home stereo environment. Using Bluetooth technology, BlueTrip can transmit up to 30 feet away from your stereo, without the traditional barriers of line of sight, walls, ceilings or windows that limit other remotes. With BlueTrip, you are free to roam and jam.

Your iPod equipped with BlueTrip effectively becomes the ultimate remote, with every control at your fingertips, and any song at your whim. BlueTrip draws its power directly from the iPod -- no batteries or extra cables required. The only drawback is that the BlueTrip sending unit that plugs into your docking connector only communicates with the Griffin-supplied receiving unit. If the sending unit would mate with other BlueTooth receivers--like those in laptops or automobiles, this device would be priceless.

The BlueTrip receiver's stylish design makes it a welcome addition to any entertainment center. With RCA plugs--as well as optical and headphone output--it can integrate into any stereo configuration. Sadly only the Griffin-supplied sending unit that plugs into the iPod docking connector is the only BlueTooth device that will communicate with it. The BlueTrip is tremendous, but it could have been so much more.

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Image © Griffin Technology 2006

Connect your stereo to the slim, stylish BlueTrip and listen to your iPod via Bluetooth technology, without extra cables or batteries. The signal from BlueTrip's iPod transmitter works through walls and doors. Your iPod effectively becomes a "remote"; change the song, audiobook chapter or volume on the iPod when it's within 10 meters of the receiver. Includes headphone, RCA and optical jacks. Measures 8 2/3" x 5 1/3" x 3 1/4". Weighs 1 lb. Comes with Griffin one-year warranty.

Read further reviews and order the PowerPod from here. A great addition to your iPod, the precision quality of and pristine audio delivered by the BlueTrip makes it an essential for listening to your iPod at home.

StarTech MP3 AirLink

The second generation StarTech MP3 AirLink is a high quality wireless digital audio transmitter and receiver system. Each is approximately 3.75 inches in diameter 0.75 inches thick. The reasonably priced package also includes two small transformer based power supplies, one for the transmitter and the other for the receiver and various interface cables.

The digital frequency modulated link operates at one of eight frequencies in the 2.4 GHz range. Therefore it may interfere with wireless telephones or local area networks. We had to select a different frequency on our wireless LAN to avert the interference from the StarTech link.

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Image © StarTech 2006

The link was designed to wirelessly connect a portable electronic device like iPod or discman to a larger home-based audio system. Unlike the BlueTrip, it can accept inputs from a broad range of devices. In this application the receiver is attached to the home theater and the transmitter is attached to the portable device. This permits the portable device to be placed remote, up to a distance of 100 ft (depending on interfering mass) away from the home theater.

Perhaps a less common, but extremely useful, application is to create a high performance wireless headphone system. In this application the transmitter is attached to either the audio source and the headphones are attached to the receiver. This application is particularly useful for playing television or stereo through the wireless link to top quality headphones or earphones without a wire between them. Since extremely high quality wireless headphones or earphones are not readily available, it is possible to create the wireless feature using the StarTech link.

In our application, the link is used in our bedroom between the television/stereo receiver and our high quality earphones. THat permits the listener to hear the TV stereo while the other sleeps undisturbed. If the listener falls asleep and the other party walks across the path between audio source and listener in the dark, there is no wire to trip over.

Our testers found the StarTech link to have excellent sound quality. In fact, we were unable to hear the difference between a direct connection between the source and earphones and the same devices connected to the wireless link. This is a true testament to the engineering and production quality of the system.

Read further reviews and order the StarTech MP3 AirLink from here. A great addition to your home, the pristine audio delivered by the AirLink makes it an essential for listening to your iPod at home or using your high quality headphones wirelessly.

The Video iPod Cases

Contour Designs Video Showcase (30GB, 60GB)

The newest and most robust iPod case comes from Contour Designs, a company that has a heritage associated with producing aftermarket Apple accessories. The Video Showcase is the latest in the company's series of iPod compatible cases. They are a hinged models made of injection molded plastic designed to fit either the 30GB or 60GB model precisely.

The Showcase was designed and manufactured by Contour Design, Inc. in the US Headquarters. The case was designed by the same team that designed the award-winning iSee case. The Showcase was designed and built off the same principles as the iSee, however, dual-injection technology allowed for a smooth shock-absorbing black rubber edge with a crystal clear front. This not only adds to the protection, but places the iPod in a newer, sleeker case. The cases are manufactured in Contour Designs' Taipai, Taiwan location.

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Image © Contour Designs 2006

The case has a clear hard plastic inner core, a black molded rubberized outer jacket and a precison plastic latch. The anchors for outer jacket penetrate through slots of the inner core just enough to provide the cushion required to hold the ipod snugly in the case. The fit and alignment to the iPod's controlwheel is absolutely perfect. Both the front of the case and the back sport clear windows to show off the iPod inside. An ingenious latch makes the belt clip adjustable and detachable. The case is extremely easy to use, especially when compared to sleeve-style alternatives. Damage to the video iPod on insertion and removal is not an option.

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Image © Contour Designs 2006

As can be seen from the illustrations, the case is only slightly larger than the video iPod. Not shown here, but illustrated at the manufacturer's website, are the precision access portals for the docking and headphone connectors and the hold switch. Innovation in both protective and aesthetic aspects has resulted in a truly superb design. The production and material quality is equally excellent. With the rubberized exterior and hard plastic interior and built-in shock protection, the Showcase is extremely good value for money.

The Video Showcase is highly recommended to all iPod users. Click on either of the illustrations to visit the manufacturer's website where the product can be ordered online. We expect that the Video Showcase will be available through soon.

Contour Designs iSee (Nano, 30GB, 60GB)

Contour's iSee cases for iPod 30G and 60G are excellent hard shell cases for the style-conscious iPod owner who wants a little more protection than a soft case can offer. The iSee Ultra-Clear Hard Case is worth looking at.

The iSee cases are made from impact resistant polycarbonate that's see-through to show off your iPod's good looks. The iSee comes in two pieces and snaps together into place around your iPod. The two pieces snap together and it's a simple system that works and holds it tight without scratching or otherwise harming your iPod itself.

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Image © Contour Designs 2006

Both sizes of iSee include top and bottom panel cutouts for headphone and dock connections and the hold switch. The front panel covers the screen entirely, and employs a nicely beveled cutout to allow scroll wheel access. Also included with the hard case is a detachable belt clip that snaps on and off of the main case by way of a spring-loaded hinge. Both versions of the clip are made from the same clear polycarbonate as the case itself, and both are sturdy and secure when in use.

Contour has a winner on its hands with the iSee series of clear hardshell iPod cases. With the iSee-video, you can protect, hear, and see your music like never before! Additional photos are available at Contour's website.

Read further reviews and order Contour Design's iSee case at here. The iSee is a great addition and essential protection for your video iPod.

Vaja Classic Leather Case (Shuttle, Nano, 30GB, 60GB)

As with previous Vaja cases, the AP181 case for the fifth-generation iPod case showcases high-quality Argentine leather that not only looks good, but smells good, and feels good. The new case features a screen protector, access to all controls and ports, and is available in numerous colors.

Vaja Classic Case for iPod Video
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Image © Vaja Cases 2006

We were provided with a beautiful review sample in blue with the screen protector only. It is magnificent. The first thing youíll notice about AP181 is how light and thin it feels by comparison with many other cases. Once you insert the iPod, it is held there securely like a hand in a glove. There are no exposed seams, glue nor threads on the interior of the Vaja product that in other cases might scratch the exterior of the iPod. Simply stated the interior is finished as nicely as the exterior.

The AP181 can also be ordered with an optional click wheel protector, name or logo personalization, and clip system.

The Vaja AP181 Classic case for the Apple 30GB iPod is a pure work of art. When you place the Apple iPod inside this case, everything just feels complete. From the port cutouts to the embossed leather finish, the Vaja case is one sweet addition. Finish, fit and manufacturing quality are top notch in every single respect.

We very much liked AP181ís precision handmade attention to detail, and the quality of Vajaís leather; the exterior and interior are nothing short of beautiful!

The Vaja Classic AP171 case is a leather case that adds very little bulk to the super small iPod Nano. This case is not padded however, the leather is stiff enough to provide adequate protection.

The Nano slides into the bottom of the case. You don't need to worry about the Nano falling out of the case since the fit is extremely tight. All of the controls, switches and jacks are fully accessible while the Nano is in this case. The cutouts line up perfectly and the plastic screen cover protects the display while remaining crystal clear.

Vaja Classic Case for iPod Nano
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Image © Vaja Cases 2006

Since the bottom of the case is open, you can easily plug in the dock connector to sync and charge with your computer. This case can be purchased with several different options. One of which is having it embossed with your name, if you want to spend a few extra dollars. Additional items that can be added are a wheel protector, and even matching leather lining. You can also get a regular plastic belt clip, a rivet system clip, a metal hook or no clip at all.

The case is so light that you donít even notice that itís there. It's beautiful, well made, versatile, and protective all at the same time. With all of the custom colors available, you could purchase your own unique work of craftsmanship.

The Vaja AP11 Shuffle case fits your iPod shuffle like a glove, with an opening at the bottom that accommodates most headphone plugs and still allows you to see the shuffle's indicator light. The leather covering the shuffle's front is thin enough that you can still press the controls underneath. The icons for play, forward, back, up, and down, are "branded" into the leather to indicate where each button is located. The back of the case provides an opening to access the off, play, and shuffle switch.

Vaja Classic Case for iPod Shuffle
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Image © Vaja Cases 2006

The top of the case features a leather flipcover that lets you insert and remove your shuffle. The cover also provides access to the shuffle's USB plug -- you can simply open the flipcover and fold it back to connect your shuffle to a USB port without removing the shuffle from the case.

Vaja's Vitelino version of the case, available in 15 color choices, uses a textured, shiny leather with matching-color stitching. The Analine version, which comes in 7 colors, features smoother, softer leather with white stitching. Whichever you choose, Vaja's shuffle case is beautiful.

Vaja iVolution (nano, 30GB, 60GB)

The new iVolution case for the iPod Nano, and video iPods in 30GB and 60GB configurations builds upon the success of Vaja's earlier efforts. The brand's latest offering is simply superb. Vaja now offer both screen and click wheel protection as options for the case. We were provided with a two colour review sample in avocado and black with the click wheel protector only. It is stunning.

Vaja iVolution Case for iPod Nano and iPod Video
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Image © Vaja Cases 2006

The latest iVolution is substantially improved over versions for the 4G iPod and iPod mini. The case fits like a perfect glove. It is neither too big nor too small. The video iPod slides in easily without any contortion and slides out easily as well. The interior of the case has been remarkably improved. The back of the case is lined in a light brown Vaja-logo-embossed leather. It is cushioned for additional protection. The front color is continued on the front side of the interior. There are no exposed seams, glue nor threads on the interior of the Vaja product that in other cases might scratch the exterior of the iPod. Simply stated the interior is finished as nicely as the exterior.

The top edge of the case is completely open for insertion and removal and access to the hold switch and earphone connector. The bottom edge of the case has an appropriately sized opening for access to the dock connector and has been slightly enlarged to simplify the removal of the iPod from the case. This is an extremely nice and thoughtful touch by the Vaja design team.

In addition to the tremendous finished quality of the product, the Vaja case also has a lovely leather smell, that is second to none. iPod affectionados can not go wrong with the new Vaja iVolution case. Finish, fit and manufacturing quality are top notch in every single respect. This is an expensive case and well worth the additional cost over alternative offerings. In addition to color, screen protector and touch control protector options, the case is also offered with other customizations. These include stripes, crystals and a selection of rivet or alternative belt clip options. The Vaja iVolution is the quintessential example of The Vaja Feeling!

Griffin Technology Vizor Leather Case

Griffin's Vizor cases give your iPod a custom fit, with easy access to audio jack and dock connector.

Vizor's unique magnetic latchless closure keeps the protective cover in place yet opens with a fingertip. Inside, your iPod stays protected even while you use it, and the integrated steel clip keeps it handy on belt or bag strap. Fit and finish are superb as one would expect from the iPod accessory experts at Griffin.

Vizor Cases for iPod Video
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Image © Griffin Technology 2006

Choose a vizor case in the color that accessorizes best! Accessorize with your color choice in high-quality leather, or high-tech synthetic in neutral gray.

Read further reviews and order the Griffin Vizor from here. A great addition to your iPod, the stunning quality of the Vizor case with its flipover cover makes it an essential for carrying your iPod safely and securely.

One Last Thing

iCleaner Pro

iCleaner Pro includes one of the most advanced polishes on the market. It is so powerful that it will remove the scratches and swirls from the metal back of your iPod without harming the laser engraving and will even get deep scratches out off the white plastic surfaces. Our review kit included the entire iCleaner product line. Included were a 1 Fl oz Bottle iCleaner, a 1 Fl oz Bottle if iPod Maintenance Polish, a 1/4 oz Metal and Deep Scratch Polish, a 100 % Cotton Towel and an iCleaner 6"x6" Super Cloth, a synthetic non-abrasive Micro Fiber polishing cloth, that can be used to achive the best results with the various polishes. A plastic glove is provided to use the Metal and Deep Scratch Polish as well. While the kit comes with abbreviated instructions, a comprehsive set of guidelines are available online.

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Image © iCleaner 2003

We were a little skeptical before attempting to use the kit. Before we attempted using any of the products on the iPod we tried it out on some other similarly sensitive electronic products, most notably our Nokia cellphone, whose screen had a rather prominent scratch before polishing. We used the iPod scratch remover and the terry polishing cloth for the job. The instructions were followed and the product worked exactly as advertised and has earned our complete respect.

The iCleaner Maintenance Polish has been developed to remove very fine or light scratches out off the white plastic surfaces of the iPod. Itr is perfect for very new iPod's that have very fine or minor scratches. We tried it on some surface scratches in the white acrylic on the front of our 40GB iPod and achieved superb results.

The iCleaner Pro is a great kit and is offerred at the company's website for a very reasonable price. Certainly a must have for all iPod owners, it should be ordered ahead of the need and kept on hand.

Read further reviews and order the iCleaner at here. The iCleaner kit is essential to keep the finish of all iPods other than the shuttle as good as new.

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