Back in 2005, Logitech released a carrying case for the Sony PSP called the PlayGear Pocket. The hard plastic clamshell provided protection for the PSP's big and beautiful screen, and even made that portable system a bit more comfortable to hold during long gaming sessions. Logitech has since reissued the PlayGear Pocket for newer, slimmer PSP 2000 and PSP 3000 models. And, for good measure, the company has now released a version for the Nintendo DS Lite dubbed, appropriately, the PlayGear Pocket Lite.
This clamshell is made of hard, clear plastic, but it's lined with firm, white foam rubber, so it appears to be predominantly snow white. If that's too boring for you, the good news is that the rubber lining slips out, allowing you to slide your own artwork between the plastic and the foam, thereby customizing the look of the case. That's why Logitech describes the product as skinnable. The company even throws in plastic templates, so you can cut photos or printouts to fit perfectly into the case.
Your Nintendo DS Lite fits snuggly inside the bottom half of the PlayGear Pocket Lite, and it's designed to stay there while you play. (Note that it works only with DS Lite models, not the larger first-generation DS version.) For that reason, the bottom side of the case has eight cutouts at various points around the edge: for the two shoulder buttons, the top cartridge slot, the bottom cartridge slot and power port, the volume and power switches, stylus bay, and the headphone jack. As a result, you can still access all of the buttons and jacks you need. And unlike the PSP version of the PlayGear Pocket, this DS version has space (molded into the top half of the case) to store four extra DS game packs. Add the two that can stay in the DS itself (one DS, one Game Boy cartridge), and you can travel with a total of six titles at one time.
The articulated hinge lets the PlayGear Pocket Lite snap tightly shut, and the hard plastic will easily protect the DS from most drops and abuse. But once you open and close the thing a few times, you realize just how ridiculous it's going to be for most people. Unlike the candybar design of the PSP--which leaves the screen exposed--the clamshell design of the DS Lite already provides a great deal of protection for the unit--both screens are safely out of harm's way, and the closed DS is quite durable. It's also small enough to slip into a pocket. By enclosing a clamshell in a second, larger clamshell, the PlayGear Pocket Lite isn't really adding a lot of value to the equation. What it does add is considerable bulk: about a third of an inch to each side of the DS Lite, up to half an inch to the top and bottom, and about half an inch to the overall thickness--as well as 4.8 ounces to the weight.
Overall, we feel that the PlayGear Pocket Lite will be redundant for most DS users. But those with larger hands--players who preferred the grip of the larger, original Nintendo DS model--may find the added bulk of the Logitech case to make for a more ergonomic gaming sessions on the DS Lite. Those users--and anyone interested in the customization options, capacity to carry extra games, and overkill-level of shock protection--will find the $20 Logitech PlayGear Pocket Lite to be a perfectly serviceable enclosure for their DS. Anyone else can probably steer clear of this one.