The Bottom Line
- Protects your device in hazardous marine environment
- Extends battery life
- Compatible with thousands of apps (including land-based navigation apps)
- Allows iPod Touch without GPS to run navigation apps
- Must manually shut off the GPS when not used to prevent draining the case's backup battery
- Not yet available for iPhone 4G or 4th generation iPod Touch (expect soon)
- Rugged case provides waterproof, shock-resistant protection for iPhone and iPod Touch
- Integrated 1840 mAh battery powers GPS receiver and charges the device to double use time
- Includes GPS receiver that is more accurate than the iPhone's - accurate to 10-15 feet
- Provides access to all functions, including touch screen, buttons, earphones, camera
- List price $199 - but less expensive at online merchants
Guide Review - The Magellan ToughCase for iPhone and iPod Touch
When navigation and other apps began appearing for the iPhone, I was somewhat skeptical about this new toy. Didn't we all already have a GPS or chartplotter for navigation, and who wanted to be playing with an iPhone when we could be enjoying the sailing? But with the development of thousands of boating apps, including navigation, charts, wind speed, weather, tide and current charts, reference manuals, and virtually everything else you can imagine, I came around to seeing the value of taking your iDevice along. If only you weren't risking its loss from salt spray or bumping it into the cockpit when a wave tosses the boat!
Magellan not only addressed this need for protection but also provided more battery power and a better GPS receiver in the ToughCase to enhance your boating experience. Frankly, I couldn't wait to lay my hands on a test unit that promised so much, even if it seemed a little pricey at first. And my testing has confirmed Magellan's claims for how this rugged case performs.
I first tested the GPS using a 3G iPod Touch, which lacks its own GPS. I used a $10 navigation app called PocketNav, from Memory-Map, which shows your boat moving on a raster chart (free downloads - unnecessary to be online when boating) and provides basic plotter functions with routing, waypoints, etc. I brought along a full-featured navigation program on my laptop to compare accuracy of fix, speed of position updates, and so on. The Magellan GPS receiver performed as flawlessly and accurately as the big system.
The added battery life is also impressive. I ran the GPS constantly, with the iPod Touch screen set bright, for over 8 hours before the GPS stopped. The iPod's own battery stayed fully charged. It's unlikely you'd keep both the GPS and bright screen light on constantly for such an extended period - but it's nice to know the power is there. If I'd switched over to the iPod's own battery when not actively using the GPS app, then I'd easily have gone more than 16 hours without charging. Unless you're talking constantly on your iPhone, you can expect similar performance with it. I did test the ToughCase also with an iPhone 3GS to ensure functionality but did not run it all day long in this test.
Finally, the construction of the ToughCase is as impressive as its features. It may seem big and heavy at first, and it is when compared with the iPhone itself, but don't forget it includes a sizable battery and GPS hardware within that thick, sturdy case (with removable belt clip). It was indeed waterproof in my submersion test. It looks and feels so solid that you can't help but trust your device to it. The hinges and clasps are oversized and well engineered. Be careful to keep clean the O rings that seal the main compartment and the ports for earphones and the USB cable for charging and synching. The case's touch screen feels just like your device's naked screen, and it's recessed a bit in the case in a way that helps prevent scratches. All in all, a great device!