Review: AB Sutton Nano Slip
Pros: Customized case with fine leather detail and craftsmanship. Over forty colors to choose from with a variety of lining and stitching options. A backsnap is available, but at an extra cost.
Cons: Although completely customizable, the price is on the high side. Difficult to use with larger headphones. Bottom, Click Wheel and Hold switch are exposed.
Arriving with the almost intoxicating smell of fine leather, New York based AB Sutton’s new Nano Slip case ($68-88) is now available for the first- or second-generation nano. And it gives Vaja’s iVod (iLounge rating: B+), arguably the company’s strongest competitor, a run for its designer dollar.
AB Sutton’s customized Slip cases start at $68, offering you a choice of leather, lining and thread and trim colors. Alternately, you can pick from five different styles of embossed or two-layer Nano Slips like the ones shown here for $78, or choose a custom monogrammed or starburst version for $88. Smart design touches make the Slip stand out from other leather products we have tested, but you’ll have to decide whether they’re worth the considerably higher price.
After an online order is placed with AB Sutton, the customer is sent an order acknowledgement card in the mail along with a felt slip-on case to tide the recipient over while the cases are made to order. The final case arrives in a neatly wrapped box, and feels every bit like a luxury item.
Each customized case is made from kidskin leather with silk or cotton interiors and by leather case standards, feels surprisingly soft and a little thin. A plastic screen protector is sewn into each Slip. As we’d expect from a quality handmade leather case, we found no problem with stitching or any other aspect of the design; however, after some testing, we noticed that the soft leather does show minor scratches and/or indentations. AB Sutton does note on its website that the case should be handled with care. It’s worth noting that custom case orders are not returnable for any reason aside from glaring defects.
The base version of the Nano Slip can be customized in your choice of forty-four leather colors, and there are over forty lining colors, plus over eighty thread and trim colors. Besides the fact that the individual case samples we received were legitimately eye-catching and attractive to us, the degree of customization offered by AB Sutton continues to be the most impressive we’ve seen for a leather case. A backsnap can be added for an additional $15 premium, which strikes us as being a bit pricey for such a tiny feature.
Unfortunately, Nano Slip is only average in protectiveness. There are holes for the Click Wheel and Hold switch, and the nano’s entire bottom is exposed to the elements. We would love to see future cases from AB Sutton come with an integrated Click Wheel protector and Dock Connector cover; they’re really needed if you want protection equalling the case’s good looks. Additionally, as mentioned above, the Nano Slip is a thin case, lacking the hard reinforcement or padding of a Vaja iVod.
While most headphone accessories we tested worked with Slip, larger headphone plugs proved difficult to use. Even though the bottom side of the nano was completely exposed, we had to pull our test nano down to the outer edge, partially blocking our screen, to connect Shure headphones. The same proved to be true with certain Dock Connector cables. On the flip side, the case’s open bottom lets you use many universal iPod docks with only modest adjustment.
Although the Nano Slip has a couple of issues, including protection limitations and comparatively high pricing, the premium here is justified by a completely customized case that looks precisely like you want it to look, down to unique texturing, monograms, and patterns. Thanks to the huge selection of threads, linings, and exterior leather types, AB Sutton offers some of the iPod industry’s most unique color combinations, even surpassing Vaja’s 1000 different options. Overall, we like what we’ve seen so far from Nano Slip, and hope to see the company’s next generation match great looks with great protection.