Company: Griffin Technology
Model: Trio Plus
Compatible: iPod nano (1G/2G)
Griffin Trio Plus for iPod nano
Pros: A soft leather iPod nano case with a relatively novel three-piece design, including face-covering flaps with and without belt clips. Each case comes with five flaps - one in case-matching black or white with a belt clip, the other four in various colors.
Cons: Detachable, protective wrap-around flap prevents iPod screen and control access, so you’ll need to choose between protection and functionality. Cases can easily show minor scratches. Color options are now limited to only the face-covering flap.
Last year, Griffin released Trio (iLounge rating: B+), a contoured leather iPod nano case that could be used with or without one of two included interchangeable face covers - one plain wrap around flap, and one with an integrated belt clip. For 2007, the company has updated Trio with a new version - Trio Plus ($30) - that differs from its predecessor in only one major way: Trio Plus includes a total of five face covers, four without belt clips in various colors, and one with a belt clip. In sum, you pay a $5 premium and get added color versatility. Our review of Trio Plus is largely based upon our prior Trio review, with differences noted where appropriate.
We were generally impressed with Trio Plus’s build quality, from the leather exterior through to the soft interior lining. As with Trio, the base case fits both first- and second-generation nanos properly and snugly, with screen and Click Wheel holes - and an integrated soft clear screen protector - that line up properly on both models; the add-on flaps fit properly, as well. Unlike Trio, Trio Plus didn’t suffer from the greasy out-of-box quality control issues we previously noticed, but as before, the soft leather does show minor scratches and indentations, a common leather issue for which we deducted one point.
Rather than using a traditional flip-open case design, Trio Plus’s base case snaps onto any of its five included wrap-around straps, which you can add or remove as needed. Without the flap, Trio Plus renders the nano easy to use, with both its screen and controls fully accessible, scoring a perfect 10. On the other hand, when used with any of the the wrap-around flaps, Trio Plus’s score lowers considerably, as only the headphone port, which can accommodate larger plugs, is fully accessible. You need to open the flap to gain full access to the Dock Connector port, Hold switch, screen, and controls. Because Trio Plus gives you the option to have full ease of use or sacrifice it for the sake of added protection, we felt it was fair to award it with nearly the maximum possible number of points here, however, it’s not as ideally implemented as in, say, iSkin’s Duo for the first-generation iPod nano, which gives you both protection and ease of use without compromise.
We gave Trio Plus a total of six points for Special Features, two of which were for the case’s three-piece design. Although leather cases have been around for some time, Griffin has carried over from the original Trip its relatively innovative interchangeable covers, distinguishing Trio Plus in versatility and protectiveness from many other similar cases that we have reviewed, and augmented the feature by giving users four color choices in a single package. Additionally, Trio Plus comes with a belt clip, for which we added one point, and is available in eight total colors, for which we added another point. It’s worth a brief note that Griffin also includes a Trio-branded rear snap cover for the base case, a tiny addition that we didn’t feel was worthy of additional points.
The base Trio Plus case provides full screen and back coverage, which we liked, as well as substantial front, partial top and partial side coverage. We were somewhat disappointed to find that, like the original Trio, the nano’s side corners, Dock Connector, Hold Switch and Click Wheel were left unprotected in the base case, and that the wrap around flap only provides protection for the latter two; it could have fully covered the Dock Connector, and the base case could have offered superior side corner protection. Obviously, if you’re looking to squeeze the most protection out of Trio Plus, use one of the included flaps.
Judged against other iPod nano leather cases, including the prior Trio, Trio Plus is a good but not great value, offering pretty nice looks, quality, versatility, and pre-packaged color options at an average price of $30. As with Trio, we actively liked Trio Plus’s three-part design, and found it to be fun and functional, nicely taking into account different types of nano users and the occasional time when one user might want to add or subtract protection. The added colors in Trio Plus are a novel addition, limited only by the fact that the base case and belt clip pieces are available in only a single color - white or black - which is actually a limitation relative to the full spectrum of colors available for the Trio. If you have a single color preference, you’ll do better spending less money on a standard Trio, but if you want half a case worth of color diversity, you’ll find Trio Plus to be a nice value pack.
The prior version of Trio missed out on our high recommendation for one major reason - it emerged from its package with an oily residue that Griffin has eliminated in Trio Plus, and most likely fixed in recent shipping versions of Trio as well. As such, though the cases are essentially equivalent at this point in time - Trio less expensive and comparatively stripped down, but available in more colors; Trio Plus more expensive and better equipped with multi-colored flaps, but only available in two base colors - Trio Plus rates one point higher, and thus receives our high recommendation. That said, if you like leather cases, it would be hard to go wrong today with either of these options.
A Note From the Editors of iLounge: Though all products and services reviewed by iLounge are "final," many companies now make changes to their offerings after publication of our reviews, which may or may not be reflected above. This iLounge article provides more information on this practice, known as revving.