While I don't own an iPod, I do own a pricey mp3 player. And, try as I might, eventually it gets damaged. A scratch here, a scratch there - a few accidental drops. Not everyone is as clumsy as that, but these high priced tiny gadgets are certainly fragile, at least in the wrong hands. That said, I've never much worried dropping it into a pool. If I did, though, OtterBox has the answer to protecting it (or at least iPods, for now) from that, among many other harsh elements. An article regarding "survival" enclosures intrigued me recently. The "OtterBox" is a waterproof iPod case, designed not only to seal your unit from water, sand, dirt and dust, but also provide protection from shocks like dropping it, and even crushing:

According to the manufacturer, the clamshell OtterBox case also protects your iPod with an "internal high-density shock protection system comprised of full-surround, closed cell impact-absorbing cage which protects an iPod from extreme impacts, drops and G-forces."
Why, exactly, are cases like these needed? OtterBox offers various other enclosures for other devices like PDAs, making me wonder just how often people are losing expensive gadgets to damage like this. Most companies don't warranty bad treatment, so if you drop it and the internal HDD is destroyed, you're out of luck. Then again, if I'm paying $300-500 for a portable, I want to treat it well. Obviously, survivability has become a topic of more importance as these devices become more affordable and put into more places.

Are we too rough with these tiny guys? Looking at my PDA, I see several scuffs and scratches, along with a few cracks from where I've dropped it. At the same time, I just can't justify sinking money into a protective enclosure, when odds are I'll be replacing the unit before I ever damage it enough to care. Do you buy rugged enclosures for your handhelds, or are you content with what the manufacturer provides?