The Elite Crystal Case for Zune 80
Let's take a look at the ZuneOne Elite Crystal Case for the Zune 80 ($9.95 USD), shall we? The first thing you'll notice when you open the box is the the cardboard placeholder image with a mockup of the Zune screen and buttons. Oddly, the album art they chose, Macy Gray's "Big", was the same image used on all of the promotional materials for the first-generation iPhone. But I won't hold it against them. On the other side is the album art for Bitter:Sweet's The Mating Game, which was promoted with the first-generation Zune 30. The case is made out of a hard plastic shell that reminds me of many of the tape cassette boxes from the 90s. Though the plastic appears very sturdy, I can see it easily cracking if left in a back pocket or dropped from a significant height. Out of the gate, I noticed how snugly the case fit around my Zune 80, with a thin lip to snap the top to the bottom half of the case. There are small bumps to protect the back and play/pause buttons but the Zune Pad is left uncovered. This keeps the finish on the buttons but has the downside of making them more difficult to access.
Figure 2: Both halves of the case.
The Zune Pad is fully accessible through the cutout and I had no issues accessing it during normal use. Thankfully the case snaps on and off easily; as with most cases, it cannot sit comfortably in a dock and the first generation connectors will not fit in the slot on the bottom of the case. I found the second generation connector to work fine. The hold switch and headphones are also cut out at the top of the case, and though this causes the headphone jack to be recessed slightly, I found no problems with any of my pairs of headphones but your mileage may vary.
Figure 3: The case and included accessories.
The case comes with a lanyard loop, a belt clip, and an armband for running and working out. There are cutouts on the back of the case for the various accessories and I had little difficulty attaching and keeping them snug. Far be it from me to question your fashion choice, but does anyone actually wear their Zune on a lanyard around their neck?
Over extended use, I noticed that the plastic was prone to smudge and scratch more than similar cases I've used. But considering the alternative (damage done directly to the screen), it's a worthwhile compromise. The protection it provides outlasts its value, and at $10, it's hard to find fault in the case design or construction. If these hard plastic "crystal" cases are your thing, you can't go wrong with the ZuneOne Crystal case. It comes in four different tints: Pink, Blue, Smoke, and Clear (I tested the Clear case.) There are versions for the Zune 4/8/16 and 30, priced at $9 and $5, respectively.
Adam Krebs is an avid Zuner who lives in Boston MA with his family and sometimes obedient Zune.
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