I own a 3rd Gen 20gig iPod. It's really really nice. But they're easily scratched. The shiny silvery back has fingerprints all over it the moment you remove the protective plastic. You would expect something that's designed to be taken everywhere to have a more robust finish.
Thankfully there's a wealth of cases available. The Apple case that comes with the iPod is OK, but it gives you no access to the front, and you have to take it out of the case to connect it to your Mac. So it's pants really.
I initially used a Speck iPod skin. This is a good rubber sleeve that slips over the iPod, and the bottom opens so you can sit it in the dock. It doesn't protect the screen at all though, so I stuck a PDA screen protector over it, keeping it scratch free. Being paranoid, I also stuck a couple on the shiny back.
I then bought a Contour iPod Showcase . It's a hard shell that keeps it well protected, including the screen. It makes the iPod a little bulkier, but it'll still easily fit into a shirt pocket.
The only downside of the Showcase is that fact that it makes the iPod too fat to sit in the dock (see below). It's still easy enough to plug the cable straight into the iPod, but it's not as convenient as the dock. Drop it in and the iPod remains secure and stable while it's connected.
So I wondered if the top could be 'popped' off the dock, allowing the FattyPod to sit in it again.
But once the top is off, instead of finding quite a large opening around the connector, you find a cast alloy weight, with an opening hardly any larger that the plastic one.
That was it for me, job stopped.
If you did remove them, then it looks like the metal weight is just screwed to the base, so it should just lift off, allowing the FattyPod to sit in the dock.