Review: Incase Leather and Neoprene Sleeves for iPod nano
Having previously looked at the first collection of cases for the third-generation iPod nano (with video), today we're covering 11 additional options with brief capsule reviews. Five new cases - four leather, one metal - are from a company called PDair, one is leather from Noreve, one is neoprene from Marware, and four alternate between leather, neoprene, and rubber from Incase. Not surprisingly, there are a number of similarities between certain groups of these cases, so we're bundlng the like cases together for comparison, and looking at the other ones individually.
Five new nano cases—Incase’s Leather Sleeve ($30) and Neoprene Sleeve ($25), and PDair’s $25 Sleeve Type Leather Case, Sleeve Type ver. 2, and Sleeve Type ver. 3—are especially similar to one another. Each of these cases is available in a standard black color, with the PDair cases also sold in brown, aqua, pink, red, or white, and the Incase Neoprene Sleeve available also in pink, as it’s shown here. They all cover the nano’s screen with clear plastic, all of its back and most of the rest of its face with leather or neoprene, and feature some sort of way to attach the case to your clothes. All of them expose the nano’s Click Wheel, rather than including film or other protection for that part. Their wearable attachments are their biggest differentiators, and the reason for PDair’s varied “ver. 2” and “ver. 3” names.
Both of Incase’s Sleeves and PDair’s Sleeve Type Leather Case ver. 3 have non-detachable belt clips on their backs, in each case upside down so that the nano’s headphone port and screen are facing upwards, rather than downwards from your waist. The standard Sleeve Type comes with a detachable generic silver metal and plastic lanyard necklace, while Sleeve Type ver. 2 has a non-detachable but decently built spring-loaded metal carabiner clip. All three of PDair’s Sleeve Type cases fully expose the nano’s bottom, and almost all of its top save for two small strips of leather, while also exposing all four of its side corners, and a hint of metal on the bottom of its face. By comparison, Incase’s Sleeves use Velcro tabs to mostly cover the Dock Connector, fully cover nano’s sides and bottom face metal, and vary in their coverage of the top. Incase’s Leather Sleeve covers the middle third of nano’s top, while Neoprene Sleeve covers the entire top, making it the most protective of the bunch.
Of the group, both of Incase’s Sleeves are nicer looking than all of PDair’s. Additional protection aside, Incase double-stitches with higher-contrast thread than PDair’s, and both the front and back of each Incase case show more design work and attention to detail. Similarly, but less importantly, the interior of the Incase Leather Sleeve is a step up from the others, using the company’s recent topographical map-style embossed fabric, while the PDair designs just use plain leather, and the Neoprene Sleeve uses Incase-logo branded neoprene.
What you get with both of the Incase Sleeves is a case that looks, feels, and protects better than the PDair designs, albeit at a higher price, and without as many color or attachment options: you’ll pay $30 for the Incase Leather Sleeve versus $25 for any of the PDairs or the Neoprene Sleeve. Based on the many cases we’ve tested in the past, our feeling is that each of these cases is a bit overpriced for what you get, but you’re more likely to be satisfied with the looks and quality of the Incase designs for the dollar than PDair’s—the reason they both rate at our B+ level.