I'll get this right out of the way -- I'm not a real fan of silicone gel cases or anything that covers up my beautiful iPhone 4 screen. On the other hand, I've been extremely fortunate and have not fumbled my phone onto hard surfaces. For those who do like the somewhat sticky feel and cushioned protection provided by silicone cases, iSkin has introduced the new revo4 Special Edition (US$44.99), now with a ViSOR.
Paging Lieutenant Commander Geordi La Forge To The Bridge
The ViSOR that iSkin has come up with for the revo4 SE is definitely different from the vision prosthetic that was a popular (except with actor LeVar Burton) prop on Star Trek: The Next Generation.
While Geordi's VISOR was a high-tech tool that allowed the blind Enterprise Chief Engineer to see well beyond the usual visual spectrum, the iSkin ViSOR is a snap-on smoked plastic shield with a small window in it. That window sits over the "slide to unlock" area on an iPhone 4 display, and it is made of a material that allows you to answer or unlock the phone while still keeping the screen covered.
The entire ViSOR can be popped off and then attached to the back of the revo4 SE if you want it to stay out of the way. The touch-friendly area responds as advertised to swipes, and answering the phone with the ViSOR attached is a breeze.
The revo4 Special Edition with the ViSOR does provide a lot of protection. The Home button is covered by a silicone dot in the color of the case, and the on / off / sleep button, volume buttons and Dock Connector port are covered as well. The port has a door (shall we call it the shuttle bay door?) that can be opened for docking.
As with most of iSkin's cases, the revo4 SE comes with a free iSkin antistatic cleaning wipe and a cloth to keep your screen smudge-free, as well as a few iSkin decals. The revo4 SE only comes in one color -- Renegade (red and black with a tinted ViSOR) -- but the regular revo4 is available for $5 less in Falcon (dark brown and white), Hornet (dark brown and yellow), Lush (pink and black) and Nighthawk (dark brown and black). If you want a clear ViSOR for the non-SE versions of the revo4, you'll have to cough up another $10.
What's Not To Like?
Now that I've described the revo4 SE case, I'll tell you what I don't like about it and most other silicone cases -- they look cheap. I'm sorry, but if I'm going to spend an arm and a leg for a nice looking phone, I want something that really looks nice on my iPhone 4. iSkin has many other cases that are much more attractive. The silicone material picks up dust way too easily, which means that you not only have an unattractive case, but one with little dots of dust on it as well.
I also see the ViSOR feature as something that's going to fall off of the iPhone or have one of the attaching "wings" break off. If it's not an integral part of the case, it's going to get lost or broken. As it was, while using the included cleaning cloth to clear smudges off of the ViSOR, I was able to put a number of small scratches into the plastic. If it scratches that much in cleaning, I shudder to think what's going to happen during real-life use in someone's pocket or purse.
To be honest with you, I find it hard to believe that the company that makes this product is the same that created one of the best-looking folio cases for the iPad -- the iSkin Aura. The revo4 design team could definitely use some lessons in designing attractive cases from the Aura folks.
My personal bias against silicone cases aside, the iSkin revo4 SE does exactly what it is supposed to do -- it protects your iPhone 4. Considering that you can get an off-brand silicone iPhone 4 case for as little as $1.88 on Amazon, I'm not sure that paying an additional $37 - $42 for a plastic snap-on lid with a "touch-friendly" groove is really all that worthwhile. If you really need protection for your investment, there are many other iPhone 4 cases that are much more attractive, less gimmicky and definitely less expensive.