Review: Capdase Soft Jacket for 4G and photo iPods
Pros: Pretty good leather case and decent rubber case. Rubber case includes screen protector, leather case is very affordable given its level of apparent quality.
Cons: Neither case is super attractive by comparison with other options. Both cases have mediocre belt clips. Rubber case has bad wrist strap, screen protector has dated and potentially corner-scratching design; leather case has small exposed patches near bottom and top.
Every month or so, another PDA accessory maker enters the iPod accessory market with a slate of new products, and most of the time, they’re yawn-inducing look-alikes of another company’s products. In our separate review of Hong Kong-based Capdase’s iPod mini cases, we noted that we were thrilled that the PDA case maker had created a novel metal and rubber iPod case, along with two less exciting cases.
One of the less exciting cases was made from rubber, and the other from leather. Unfortunately, the company doesn’t make a metal and rubber full-sized iPod case, but it did send 4G and photo versions of its rubber and leather cases. Like their smaller mini sisters, they’re not exciting, but they’re not bad, either, especially for the price. We also look briefly at Capdase’s Armband Holder for the 4G iPod, as well.
Soft Jacket Set
Capdase’s rubber Soft Jacket Set ($17.95) for the 4G iPod is a me-too offering that generally does a fine job with all of the familiar details of translucent silicone case design. Six translucent colors (white, black, blue, green, pink, and orange) are available. Each case is individually sized to a particular iPod’s body, so unlike some other companies’ cases, the Soft Jackets don’t exhibit generalized fit issues, and the holes line up as they’re supposed to.
Like most other silicone cases, the Soft Jacket leaves holes for the iPod’s screen and Click Wheel, headphone port, Hold switch, and Dock Connector port. The Dock Connector port is properly sized for all but the largest bottom-mounting cabled iPod accessories, and a detachable “unbreakable” screen protector is included. Small heat dispersion holes and plastic nubs on the case’s back look good; the case’s face could have used some more of that style.
The screen protector is okay, not great. Like first-generation hard protectors released a year ago, Capdase’s has small hard plastic nubs in all four corners, its top, and bottom. As iSkin noted after introducing its second and third-generation iShades, rubber padding is much better suited to these corners, and won’t damage the iPod’s surface if the case smacks into something. The Capdase solution holds properly in place and looks good when used with the Soft Jacket, but we would strongly prefer film or a partially rubberized solution to this one.
Like the iPod mini case, the Soft Jacket Set for full-sized iPods includes a chintzy one-piece belt clip we don’t much like, with a nub that is thankfully fully removable. Additionally, in a nod to the full-sized iPod’s additional weight, Capdase includes a goofy fabric and plastic hand strap with each 4G case rather than the mini case’s reflective lanyard necklace. The hand strap loops into a small eyelet integrated into the left side of the rubber case.
We would call the hand strap terrible, but that might overstate the impact of an oversized plasticine advertisement with the words “Stylish. Protective. Innovative.” and the company’s URL on it. Like other bad hand straps, this one is easy enough to throw in the garbage or a drawer, but it’s mostly disappointing because Capdase’s lanyard necklaces range from good to excellent. This is just a notable exception.
Overall, this is a better than average case with some not-so-great accessories. We were leaning on the edge of a B- for the case as a consequence of the accessories, but considered in the context of, say, Speck’s Skin Tight 4G case (iLounge rating: B), you can throw away all of Capdase’s pack-ins and have a case that’s about as good for the same price. Depending on where you shop, the price may be even more attractive, and we wouldn’t discourage its purchase unless you really care about belt clipping or wrist-wearing your iPod. If you tend to throw your iPod into bags or other places where the screen protector might get bumped, however, there are better options out there, and you may well want a case with Click Wheel protection, as well.
Flip-Top Leather Case
Though it shares the same name as Capdase’s iPod mini product, the iPod 4G and photo leather PDA-style case we tested is a bit different. The company’s mini case took after Tunewear’s somewhat distinctive Prie case, while this one - also called the Flip-Top Leather Case ($17.95) looks like most of the generic iPod PDA cases we’ve seen from companies other than Tunewear.
Like many of the other leather PDA-style iPod cases we’ve looked at, the Flip-Top Leather Case we received uses medium grade black leather, with interior cardboard reinforcements against front and back flexibility. Pink, white, and brown versions are also available. Capdase’s offering differs mostly in its nice front and rear padding, off-white stitching, and properly cut holes, which offer reasonable access to the iPod’s headphone and Dock Connector ports (for Apple’s first-party accessories and smaller third-party ones), and full screen/Click Wheel exposure when the case is opened.
The Flip-Top Leather Case’s lid is plain but for a metal Capdase logo on its bottom right corner. Its inside has no holders for business cards or cash, as some other cases do, but we’ve rarely if ever found these features necessary. When closed, the case covers virtually all of the iPod save its top hole and its sides’ tops, placing it mostly on par with competing offerings. Small slits on the Dock Connector port hole aren’t covered by its rear-snapping lid latch, and two unstitched slits in its bottom corners will also expose the iPod’s side bottoms if something rubs against them. This isn’t bad, but isn’t the best protection we’ve seen in a leather case, either. Like all of Capdase’s other cases, the Flip-Top Leather Case includes a black detachable belt clip that we’re not especially fond of, as well as the ability to completely detach the black plastic belt clip nub. We liked this case’s simple removeability of the clip nub, and think the case even looks good with the nub still attached. However, the clip itself is a significant cheapening factor in the case’s overall appearance, and is the single biggest weakness across all of Capdase’s offerings. At a price under $20, it’s hard to really dislike the Flip-Top Leather Case, but it’s also not in the same league with our favorite full-sized iPod leather case offerings. It rides the fine edge of a B+/B rating from us, but scores a B+ primarily because of its value for the dollar and its slightly better attention to face- and bottom-of-iPod details than its mini version. It’s not quite Marware’s C.E.O. Classic or a Vaja case in overall design, but for the price, some people will like it a lot. Armband Holder On a final note, we received but do not review Capdase’s iPod Armband Holder, which uses a plastic clip to hold your iPod, a foam spacer pad to protect the iPod’s back unless it’s inside of a rubber case, and a combined rubberized band and metal spacing clip to fit your arm.
We include photos of the Armband Holder for those who might be interested, but note that we were not impressed with the overall design. As you’ll note, the rubber armband wraps around itself from the inside rather than the outside, and at a certain point begins to double (or even triple) around itself. Capdase suggests users work around this by cutting the band with a scissors. This aside, it’s still hard to adjust and properly clamp closed - a lot harder than any other armband we’ve seen.
Frankly, with well-made options such as Speck’s Skin Tight Arm Band on the market, we’re not especially inclined to start taking a scissors to other accessories to make them fit properly on our arms. As such, we’re not going to review the Armband Holder, but we did want to make our readers aware of it.
Jeremy Horwitz is Editor-in-Chief of iLounge.