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Zune

Review: ZuneOne's Silicone Skin, Crystal Case

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One thing we feel the Zune has over the competition (iPod) is its matte finish. What might seem like a minor design point was without a doubt meticulously poured over by marketing and design gurus for what must have seemed like minutes. They came up with a material that felt good but didn’t scratch too easily, like other competing products (iPod) tend to.

Though it affords your Zune some protection from environmental dangers in your bag or glovebox, it doesn’t do much for short falls or help in any other way. ZuneOne is hoping its line of skins and cases can make up for the Zune’s natural shortcomings. We were sent two cases to review, and here are our impressions, along with a few photos (we used our pink Zune).

Zune Silicone Case

This $8 skin is pretty plain, but that’s what we like about it. When in the skin, the Zune takes on the same appearance as Han Solo when he’s frozen in Carbonite, a rough outline of what’s underneath visible. The buttons of the skin align with the buttons of the Zune precicely, it’s a good fit.

While we’re not fans of cases for portables (it makes them larger, they don’t fit in pockets), these slim silicone skins work out quite nicely. We found that the material used allowed it to slip in and out of our pockets nicely, without adding too much to the overall product bulge, a nice balance indeed.

Zune Crystal Case

It’s actually hard to believe that this case was made by the same company. All of the positives of the silicon case are reversed here. This case is clunky, shoddy, and just plain sucks. Getting the case open to insert the Zune required trial and error to get it to just the right angle. Once in, though, we couldn’t keep the thing closed, it would pop open randomly, spilling the Zune onto the carpet. This is not a feature we want in our cases.

We’re blaming this on the cheap plastic, however. The design was pretty good, though we couldn’t get to the hold switch. If the plastic was slightly thinner and of higher quality, we think we’d be able to hit it, plus it wouldn’t come apart every time we looked at it funny.

One thing we did like was the kickstand at the back. If you’re on a long flight, portable video is a godsend. Sadly, most PMPs have to be handheld. This kickstand works as a easel, putting the screen of the Zune at a perfect viewing angle in the widescreen format. That might make it worth the $12.

Summary

In the end, if you’re looking for an inexpensive way to protect your Zune, go silicone. If you want an option for viewing, then the crystal case looks good, but don’t expect any protection. In fact, our Zune took more falls while testing this case than it had without any cases, so we’d suggest steering clear until it’s (hopefully) updated to usable standards.

ZuneOne’s Cases [Zuneone.net]

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