SpeckProducts 4G 20 and 40gb iPod ToughSkin Review

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Product Requirements:
iPod 20 and 40gb digital audio players

has a new iPod product just for those of you that are tough on your stuff. The
ToughSkin is a rubber cover with added thickness on the sides and corners. 
Made of shock-absorbing, tear-resistant KRATON plastic and available in Black,
Clear, Orange, Blue, and Red, the ToughSkin also comes with hard plastic
protectors for the display, touch wheel and a removable belt clip.

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After opening the ToughSkin package that was sent to me, I realized that this
product was more complex than their other offerings. The ToughSkin actually has
6 pieces to it.

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1. The main skin
2. The hard plastic touch wheel protector
3. The hard plastic display protector
4. The hard plastic rear plate
5. The belt clip nub
6. The belt clip

This skin can fit both the 20gb and 40gb
fourth generation players. Since the 20gb player is
thinner than the 40gb model, a spacer is required. This is where the plastic
rear plate comes into play. The plate has little peg feet that protrude out of
the plate. If you have a 20gb player, you orient this plate so these feet are on
the inside of the skin. If you have the thicker 40gb player, you turn the plate
so that the feet stick out the back of the skin by way of small circular

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The belt clip nub can be removed and reattached on either side of the plate.
Or, you don’t have to use it at all, if you don’t wish to.

Ok, here’s the thing that immediately frightened me with this product: iPod
with a shiny chrome back sliding across a hard plastic plate with hard plastic
posts sticking out of it. Am I the only person that thinks this is a
bad idea? I mean, the back of my iPod will scratch if I even look
at it funny. I can only imagine what it would look like if I tried to insert it
into this skin with that plate installed.

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Since I have the thicker 40gb player and could use this skin with the plate’s
feet facing away from the chrome back, I took fate into my own hands and went
ahead and inserted my player into the case through the display cutout. Happily,
I felt no scraping as I did so. With the plate in this orientation, it will not
harm (at least in my experience) the chrome back on a 40gb player.

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Once the player was encased in the ToughSkin, I inserted the display protector
and touch wheel protector. The finished product does look pretty nice… In use,
I did find that having a cover over the touch wheel was really more trouble than
it was worth. It is slightly annoying to have to open the cover whenever you
wish to scroll through a song list or interact with the player. I think
SpeckProducts would be better off using a thin membrane cover such as the one
used by
in their iPod case.

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There is a cutout on the bottom of the ToughSkin to allow for sync/charge
with a cable. A cutout on the top of the skin allows for earphones, but not for
most accessories such as the iTalk. The
rubber is just too thick around the cutout to allow most accessories to fully seat
in the connector.

Should you buy this case? I would tell 20gb iPod owners to pass on this one.
Even though I can’t verify that it will scratch the back of your player, I would
be very apprehensive to even give it a try. If you’re a 40gb owner that needs
extra protection for your player, then I would say that this product will give you
what you want as long as you don’t mind opening the touch wheel cover whenever
you need to access it.

Price: $34.95

Protects the iPod from scratches and bumps

20gb players require the use of a hard plastic insert that looks like it could
easily scratch the chrome back of the player
Rubber material attracts lint


Product Information

Manufacturer:Speck Products
  • Protects the iPod from scratches and bumps
  • 20gb players require the use of a hard plastic insert that looks like it could
  • easily scratch the chrome back of the player
  • Rubber material attracts lint

8 thoughts on “SpeckProducts 4G 20 and 40gb iPod ToughSkin Review”

  1. Gadgeteer Comment Policy - Please read before commenting
  2. gremlin_591002

    Wouldn’t worry to much about plastic scratching chrome. Rockwell scale makes it pretty much impossible. Now if the case or the ipod was dirty maybe…

  3. Translation:
    A softer material, e.g. plastic, cannot scratch a harder material, e.g. chrome. That assumes there is no sand in between, which has greater hardness than chrome.

    Materials Science comes in handy sometimes.

  4. I got one for use with my 40 GB Photo. It’s definitely a tight fit. I haven’t seen much in the way of scratches though. The bottom opening is big enough for the usual plugs, but just a hair too small for a SendStation PocketDock to fit without stretching the hole.

  5. gremlin_591002

    I like hard plastic myself. My life is pretty dusty/dirty. I have a hard time keeping dust out of my Zire 71. Rubber tends to hold dirt where plastic lets you wipe it off. Probably makes it less likely to scratch in my play pen. Of course I don’t have an iPod so I guess it’s all a moot point. :p

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