Review: Acme Made The Traveler
Pros: Attractive iPod cases with professional stitching and generally high-quality components.
Cons: Wallet exposes a bit too much of the iPod to possible scratch damage; Traveler can cause scratch damage and be torn by thicker iPods.
Known for its fashionable accessories outside the iPod market, Acme Made has entered the customized iPod case business with two new products. The Wallet ($59.99) is an attractively glossy Italian box leather and microsuede fashion case available in pastel lime green, pink, and blue colors, while The Traveler ($59.99) is a zippered leather and suede travel case available in red or black colors.
While both cases look sharp, The Wallet is the more interesting aesthetically. Our green review unit felt slick to the touch on the outside, employing the style and shape of a woman’s wallet to enclose a full-sized iPod. (Acme Made also sells an iPod mini version, which we haven’t tested.) Unlike horizontally-flapped PDA cases, The Wallet uses a vertical flap that opens to the left, revealing the soft microsuede interior, one thin card pocket, and an internal strap for earbuds. Both the front and back of The Wallet are moderately padded to cushion the iPod’s largest flat surfaces.
An iPod is held in place with a largely suede holster that expands with one strip of black elastic to accommodate literally any full-sized iPod that Apple’s released. A clear medium-grade vinyl sheet covers the iPod’s screen and only modestly clips the top of a 1G/2G iPod’s buttons; it perfectly fits 3G, 4G, and photo iPods. The Wallet seals closed with a square magnet-edged clasp, which is marked with the Acme Made logo on its front face.
We mostly liked the feel and design of The Wallet – both on the inside and outside. It’s not a man’s iPod case, but it’s clearly well-manufactured and highly professional – the sort of case that seems generally worth its $59.99 price tag. While not as decidedly iPod specific from the ground up as Vaja’s iVod cases, it’s a solid option and generally protective: full access to the iPod’s top and bottom ports is permitted through the wallet-like open top/partially open bottom design, which while a bit dangerous from an iPod scratching standpoint is reinforced against drop damage by the wallet’s protruding edges.
The Traveler is a smaller variant on several black ballistic nylon travel cases we’ve seen from Monster, Be-Ez, and HandStands: the concept is that you holster your iPod in a genuine suede-lined leather case only twice the iPod’s thickness, toss your headphones into an internal pocket, and zip the whole thing up with a quality YKK zipper. Leather and polished metal add class to the zipper, and a square black Acme Made logo graces The Traveler’s front. Acme Made’s internal pocket uses a highly cool combination of red suede and generally invisible black elastic, the latter of which expands to partial visibility only when something’s inside.
The iPod holster is almost identical visually to the one in The Wallet, using a suede body and vinyl iPod screen protector, but there’s a significant hidden difference – rather than elasticizing the sides, Acme Made used black leather that doesn’t expand. As a consequence, the case can accommodate iPod thicknesses up to the iPod photo, but not safely from the case’s perspective. We’re not sure whether the leather ripped before or after we inserted our test iPods, but we were surprised to see that the left leather support had torn without significant use. Acme Made’s other stitching, however, is fantastic, and the sealed case looks like a professionally made small leather-bound book or toiletries kit.
Our only other gripe with The Traveler was the iPod scratching potential of its zipper. Acme Made says that they’ve engineered around that concern with a protective zipper flap, and while there is indeed such a flap inside, the zipper’s top still had a tendency to come in direct contact with whichever iPod we inserted into a holster. The contact wasn’t enough to scratch standard iPods when we were careful, but less nimble users might want to take caution – it nicked the back of our thicker test iPod photo.
Overall, while The Wallet is an appealing fashion case for women, the Traveler fell a bit shy of the build standards we expect from protective iPod cases, and scratched one of our test iPods. Both cases feature wonderful exterior leather, The Wallet’s more noteworthy only because its Italian Box leather is fairly unique to the iPod case market. Since it’s substantially protective, cleanly designed and iPod safe, we’d recommend The Wallet to anyone except those who keep keys or other scratching objects in their pockets or bags. But we wouldn’t recommend The Traveler unless you’ve got a thin iPod and are absolutely sure you won’t rip the case or scratch your iPod on the zipper. It’s a nice design in need of a little more fine-tuning.
Jeremy Horwitz is Editor-in-Chief of iLounge.