Review: Teski Executive Leather Case
Pros: Adequately covers most of the iPod, excellent belt clip, medium-quality leather, distinctive face plate, great price.
Cons: Screen and control holes are poorly matched to the iPod, corners aren’t protected, lacks plastic screen protection of similar leather cases.
If you’re tired of boring old leather cases, or already own every aluminum iPod case, Teski has something that might grab your attention: the Executive iPod Leather Case, a leather case with aluminum front plating.
True, it makes an odd first visual impression, but at a price of $19.95, this new metal and leather case can’t just be ignored. Does Teski’s improbable combination have any chance of becoming the chocolate and peanut butter mix of the iPod case world? If the picture piqued your curiosity, read on and find out.
Mostly Good Design
As it turns out, Teski’s neither a first-time iPod accessory designer nor a neophyte in the gadget market. You may remember the San Francisco-based company from our favorable review of the Roadie, an inexpensive but well-designed plastic case that enables an iPod to be used during workouts. In addition to iPod accessories, Teski makes a small selection of leather PDA cases and women’s clothes, the latter of which are generally far more adventurous than the former. With the exception of the Roadie, each of the PDA cases is a simple but stylish leather enclosure.
So it was somewhat surprising to discover that, unlike most of the company’s other products, the Executive iPod Leather Case is more than just leather to wrap around a gadget. Unlike any other leather case for the iPod, Teski’s case places an iPod-sized rectangular sheet of brushed aluminum on its front flap, a sleek modern touch that sets it apart from the thicker, padded leather fronts of flip-open cases from Vaja, Marware, Piel Frama and others. A Teski logo is subtly etched into the metal, and the fabric- and leather-coated other side of the flap has a slot large enough for a single business or credit card.
The rest of the case is familiar enough. Like other leather cases, Teski’s offering adds approximately 50% to the iPod’s thickness and a few extra millimeters of height and width on each side. Mid-grade Nappa leather is used for the remainder of the sheathe-like body, and a soft synthetic fabric covers most of the interior surfaces that touch the iPod.
Unlike Marware and Vaja’s flip cases, the Executive iPod Leather Case lacks interior clear plastic screen protection, but similarly leaves holes for the Dock Connector port and bottom corners. And like Vaja’s case, Teski’s leaves three holes at the top of the iPod when closed: one for the headphone port, and two at the top left and right sides. The Executive Case seals shut pretty well at the bottom with a Velcro pad that covers the Dock Connector hole.
On a happier note, those who attach iPods to their belts will like the Ultra Clip included with the Executive Case. Made from plastic, the detachable belt clip literally locks into place with a plastic rear nub that remains part of the case at all times. Though the nub is not made from metal, Teski’s included clip system is otherwise identical to the excellent belt clip Vaja now includes with its cases, including the iVod mini we recently reviewed.
Issues and Conclusions
Holes are our only major gripe with Teski’s product. The hole provided for the iPod’s screen (rather than including a plastic protector) is adequate, but not precision cut, consequently lining up somewhat unattractively upon first use. A poorly shaped second hole provides access to all of the iPod’s controls - at least, adequate access, given that the top edge of the stitched fabric clips the top of the iPod’s four buttons. That additional holes leave the corners of the iPod underprotected is also a downer, but then, Teski’s case isn’t the only one to go this route. In sum, it’s not the nicest-looking interior we’ve seen.
A minor issue is the case’s external style. Initially, the aluminum-and-leather combination turned us off, but has grown on us with the passage of time. Strictly speaking, the slight use of metal adds little in the way of iPod protectiveness to an all-leather design, but does resist case tearing and scratching better than a softer material. We get the feeling that the use of aluminum was a cosmetic decision more than a practical one, not that there’s anything wrong with that choice. If you don’t like the look when you see the pictures, we will say that it’s one of those rare items that comes across better in person, and upon further reflection.
The key advantage of the Executive iPod Leather Case is unquestionably its price. Even if it’s not the best-looking case when opened or closed, it’s a good enough value at $19.95 to be on a short list of “affordable gift for someone else” recommendations. Teski’s use of the excellent Ultra Clip system makes the case a more than viable option for use with a belt, and while the quality of the leather isn’t up to the Vaja or Piel Frama levels of class, it’s surely better looking than the price would suggest.
Would we pick Teski’s newest case over a similarly priced silicone case? Not really; it’s bulkier, doesn’t cover the iPod’s corners as well, and the open-faced holes leave the iPod looking less professional than a snug piece of rubber. Similarly, if we were looking for a premium leather case, we’d pick Vaja’s cases in a heartbeat. But for its price, and for an “anything but rubber” target audience, we think the Executive iPod Leather Case is a solid offering with considerably more good than bad.
Jeremy Horwitz is Senior Editor of iLounge and practices intellectual property law in his spare time. His recent book, Law School Insider, has been called the “best book about law school - ever,” and he continues to contribute to Ziff-Davis electronic entertainment magazines.