Review: a.b. sutton Kidskin Case for iPod shuffle
Pros: Nice leather case for the iPod shuffle with full vinyl front Control Pad and light access, fairly balanced rear control and light access, and adjustable snaps for different USB caps. Good build and leather quality; available in many colors.
Cons: Pricey for a shuffle case; built to accommodate legit necklace solution but doesn’t include one; appeal of design will vary from person to person.
When indie iPod fashion cases arrive, we almost always face a tough decision: do we evaluate them by the same standards as mass-manufactured, “professional” iPod cases, or do we apply some special lower standards to allow for their rough edges? Thankfully, New York-based A.B. Sutton hasn’t forced us to make that choice with its Kidskin Leather Case for the iPod shuffle ($40), a good enough indie case to be judged by the same yardstick as the professional offerings we’ve seen.
As indicated by its name, the Kidskin Case is a leather iPod shuffle holder that “wraps around your shuffle to provide full protection,” and features two metal snaps on its back to accommodate either of Apple’s shuffle USB caps. One vinyl circle in its front provides access to and protection for the shuffle’s Control Pad, while a tinier vinyl circle right above it protects and displays the lights on the shuffle’s face - the green light better than the amber. Three true holes on its top and back fully expose the shuffle’s headphone port, power switch, and battery indicator light, and a hole at its bottom lets you insert and remove your iPod shuffle.
When inside the Kidskin Case, your shuffle is touched only by a while silk lining and its stitching, and exposed only on the aforementioned holes and its USB cap’s two bottom corners. It’s a bit more protective than Pods Plus’ Leather Case for iPod shuffle (iLounge rating: C+) on all sides, especially its face, where it’s considerably more protective. And A.B. Sutton’s leather has been treated for water-resistance, so it can withstand light splashes of rain, though the company recommends that users treat the leather every six months with shoe polish to preserve its water-resistance and softness.
Beyond the obvious details above, A.B. Sutton offers the Kidskin Case in 41 different colors - all the predictable ones, plus metallics and multiple shades of almost everthing - and makes each one to order. Your case comes with an embossed number on its rear near its snaps - ours said 174 - and like many indie shops, the company promises a 2-3 week turnaround time for its products.
We generally liked the construction of the Kidskin Case we tested, and found its aesthetic sensibilities to be pretty good. The blue leather with white edges had a reasonably hip match for the shuffle’s design, though like the Pods Plus cases, the lines and edges of the Kidskin Case have equal chances of appealing to (or turning off) different buyers. If you like the look from the photos, you’ll probably love the color customization and individual hand-made finish of the cases, which doesn’t in any way fall short of what we’ve seen from bigger companies.
The other interesting details are the Kidskin Case’s pack-ins: an odd little color-matched item that turns out to be a sheathed metal hook, and a very thin length of string that can be used as a necklace. You remove the hook from its sheathe, stick it through a stitched interior groove in the case’s flap, and pull the string through the groove to form a necklace. A.B. Sutton recommends that you might provide your own necklace as an alternative, which is a somewhat smarter idea: the string is almost pointlessly thin, especially given that you can just pop your shuffle’s lanyard USB cap on and have something that fits and is comfortable.
As it does a pretty good job of protecting the shuffle’s body (save for its back and bottom corners), our major issue with the Kidskin Case is the price. We’ve seen some pretty hard core iPod shuffle cases for $30, and at twice the price of Pods Plus’ leather case, this offering isn’t exactly a bargain. Given that it was specially designed to accommodate a necklace, it’s hurt a little by the omission of a legitimate pack-in of this sort for the price. On the other hand, it’s hand made from pretty good leather, solidly built by indie and even bigger standards, and individually numbered.
Therefore, if you’re a fashion case lover, like the style, and don’t mind the price, you’ll enjoy what A.B. Sutton’s Kidskin Leather Case for the iPod shuffle has to offer. If you’re looking for comprehensive protectiveness from corner to corner, or require your shuffle cases to fall into the $20 and under category, there are other options worth considering.