We spent a couple of days banging the slim-fitting case around and testing its functionality, and have mostly good news to report.
Gallery: Monaco aluminum armor
The Monaco aluminum case from Wireless Ground is a sleek, close-fitting layer of protection made of aircraft-grade aluminum (i.e., not the kind used in soda cans). Look-wise, it's a lot like this case we checked out last year, but without the emblem or the wrist strap. The Monaco case is available in matte black or silver; we took a look at the former, and found the effect with the crimson and black Lite to be rather pleasing. Since the darker portions of that model are also matte, they went very well together.
But how's it work? The Monaco case serves as heavy duty armor without the weight you'd expect. The case itself is very thin -- slightly thicker than a thumbnail -- with an almost-invisible neoprene layer to protect your DS from scratches as you put on and remove the armor. All of the slots and buttons are accessible through openings in the case, and unlike most cases, you do not have to remove the Monaco case in order to play (that's what makes it more similar to armor). However, the top half does not attach to the top screen portion of the DS when the handheld is open and in use -- it falls open. That extra layer may bother some gamers, but we found that it in no way impeded game play, even though we tried it in a variety of positions. If you happen to have the habit of shaking your DS vigorously up and down, it may be a problem, but if you do that, the top half of the armor is probably the least of your issues. It does just hang there free-swinging, though, and we can see how that might bother some folks.
The armor also has nonskid rubber "feet" on the bottom, in case you're the type to slide your DS around all willy-nilly. The fit is perfect, and the case doesn't add any noticeable bulk if you slip the handheld into a pocket.
Look: Very sleek, matte black, trim and nice!
Weight: Not enough to be noticeable.
Durability: We were unable to scratch it with other metal items, dent it, or otherwise damage it.
Price: Regular price $39.95, currently on sale for $24.95
Additional colors/patterns? Also available in silver, and Wireless Ground also offers leather cases.
Essential? For most DS owners? No, not essential, and if your DS fits snugly into a larger case, the armor may add too much bulk. But if your Lite is in a position to take a lot of wear and tear, this armor is definitely recommended!