Unless proven otherwise, this will be another blog that I’ll fail to update after a week or so.

Review: DLO Videoshell case for iPhone 3G

As predicted in my review of the Contour Hardskin, it was only a matter of time when I would want to try on a different look for my iPhone. As much as I loved the Contour (solid protection, lightweight, excellent customer service), there is something about seeing the iPhone for all its beauty, and the Contour prevented one from viewing the chrome side and the smooth glossy back.

Enter the clear case collection. There are several out there, from Contour’s own “iSee” and its new “Showcase”, to Agent18’s Shield, as well as other similar cases from Belkin and Speck to name a few. All of these were simple enough and ranged from $19.99 to $34.99. The goal was to find something that went above and beyond. My usual stop for reviews (iLounge) offered a possible option. Its review of the DLO Videoshell for the iPhone 3G offered a dual grade (A-/C-) to account for the problem of not being able to open easily. The Videoshell is very competitively priced (I got mine for $18 at SF Planet), comes with a screen protector, and has a viewing sliding stand that allows you to prop up your iPhone. Although this was quoted in an Wired article as a useless feature, it’s what ultimately sold me on giving the product a try since I found it to be rather innovative and potentially useful.

First, what I liked. Certainly, the price and the total package are very attractive. For $18 (maybe less if you shop around), you get a case and a screen protector. The case is of solid construction (sure, it’s cheap plastic, but it has been durable nonetheless), and the phone fits in snugly (almost too much). The sliding stand (once you figure out how to open it – HINT: use your index finger to prop it out of those grooves) is cool, and allows you to prop up your iPhone both vertically and horizontally. Plus, what they don’t advertise as much is that it resides flush with the case, not protruding like a belt clip. I was unsure of this until I received it. Definitely a big plus in my book. I did not use the included screen protector, since I have been very pleased with the one I purchased and applied already (Power Support Anti-Glare).

What’s not to like? Well, since it’s a clear case, it’s going to pick up some minor scratches, which over the course of time may diminish the case’s intention of showing off the iPhone. I still like the way it looks and feels, so I can overlook this for now. The plastic is a bit rough at the openings (volume and backlight), and dust seems to find its way in through those wide openings. The challenge of opening the case is a con, but I will offer a workaround for this here. The plastic adds a bit of bulk, slightly heavier than the Contour Hardskin that I had before, but overall, the feel is still smooth and still not as bulky as my Samsung i730 or a Blackberry. Finally, the sliding stand is a bit thin, so be gentle, or else you might not have it on much longer.

How do you get the phone out? So, the ilounge reviewers were correct in that it is a bit challenging to remove the iPhone from the Videoshell. However, after a bit of trial and error, and some minor nicking to my case, I have found a pretty solid method that you may find of use (DLO – you may want to advertise this method, and send me a replacement case for my efforts and minor nicking). Basically, it involves opening the case with a small coin (I use a penny), and this was advertised on DLO’s website. However, I still had a hard time getting the rest of the case to open. I nearly broke my finger, though I’m surprised the case did not give in as well. I also nicked up the sides of the case before I decided to bring in another piece of “plastic” to help out. Just as you would see in the movies, I used a credit card to get myself into a “locked” place. After opening the case with a coin, I slid a credit card through the sides and this easily forced open the case. It has worked every time flawlessly since, and I can now get in and out of the case as needed (mostly to blow out the dust and clean away smudges).

Overall, I am happy with the case. I got it for a fair price, it shows off the iPhone well, adds a coolness factor with the sliding stand, and I can work around its shortcomings with ease. Let me know what you think – I thought about making a quick YouTube video to show the credit card trick, so if there’s a demand, I will oblige.

Filed under: iPhone, Reviews, , , , , , , , ,

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