Review: Belkin Holster Cases for iPod 5G and nano | iLounge

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B-Limited Recommendation

Company: Belkin

Website: www.belkin.com

Model: Holster Cases

Price: $25 (5G), $20 (nano)

Compatible: iPod 5G, iPod nano

Belkin Holster Cases for iPod 5G and nano

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By Jerrod H.

Contributing Editor, iLounge
Published: Saturday, January 28, 2006
Category: Cases - iPods + Accessories, iPod 5G (with Video), iPod nano

Pros: A well built leather-like (PVC) sleeve-style case for 5th Generation and nano iPods that snaps closed at the top, and offers a sturdy 8-position belt clip. Each model also includes a removable hand strap which attaches securely to a grommet in one of the case’s corners.

Cons: As a sleeve case, the Belkin Holster completely limits all access to the iPod’s screen and controls; the iPod’s top surface and all four corners are left exposed full-time; Belt clips are not removable for those who’d prefer not to use them; the headphone port access hole on the Holster for iPod nano is too small for all but Apple’s headphone plugs.

The simple sleeve has been a fairly common case design; even Apple chose this for its packed-in iPod cases for previous-generation iPods. The general design persists for modern iPods with offerings from Incase, Marware, and now Belkin, but is the design still relevant with today’s increasingly screen-centric content? We take a look in this review of Belkin’s new, inexpensive Holster cases for 5G and nano iPods. Because the nano and 5G versions of Belkin’s Holster are nearly identical in design and build, we’re reviewing them together in our new capsule review format.

Each of Belkin’s Holster cases passes our fit, finish, and resilience criteria, losing a single point only because the case’s medium-thickness PVC material isn’t completely scratch-proof. Both versions of the case fit their appropriate iPods snugly and securely, and are built well with secure, accurate stitching on their exteriors. Inside, the cases’ soft felt lining mates accurately to the outer PVC material.

As is typical for such sleeve-style cases, usability of each iPod while in the case is limited to uninterrupted listening: each time you want to change the track or volume, you’ll need to slide the iPod out of the case. While such cases were generally acceptable for 3rd- and 4th-generation iPods, where control could be easily retained through the use of a prior-model Apple Remote Control connected via the iPod’s exposed top side, the exclusive dependence of newer iPods on their Dock Connector ports for remote control renders sleeve-style cases less useful. It should also be noted that the headphone port access hole on the Holster for iPod nano is restrictively small - almost so even for Apple’s small plug housing.

Sleeve cases are innately simple, but Belkin adds two relatively basic additional features: a removable hand strap and a sewn-in, sturdy belt clip which can be ratcheted to eight different angles. Each works as expected and feels well-constructed.

The Belkin Holster cases receive a protectiveness rating mostly typical of open-topped sleeve cases, minus a point for Belkin’s omission of protection for the iPod’s bottom corners. Compared to Apple’s older packed-in cases for discontinued iPods, the Belkin Holster cases actually cover more length of the iPod’s sides, and generally feel more substantial. As a bonus, the iPod nano version of the Belkin Holster includes a small piece of film intended to cover the iPod nano’s screen, making the need to repeatedly sliding the iPod in and out slightly more palatable from a protection standpoint.

Priced at $20 for the iPod nano version and $25 for the 5G iPod version, we’d consider the Belkin Holster cases to be a better-than average value compared to other “standard” iPod cases. Users simply wanting a way to safely carry an iPod will enjoy this aggressive pricing (especially when purchased sans shipping costs from an Apple Retail Store), though far more fully-featured options exist at only slightly higher prices. The Holster cases’ aggressive pricing earned it an “8” in the value category, and because we genuinely liked the case’s look, feel, and construction, we awarded the Holster cases an extra “reviewer’s tilt” point.

Sleeve cases remain somewhat viable as simple, affordable ways to protect iPods from the light damage inherent in daily use. While Belkin’s latest entries in the category are undoubtedly respectably well made and look nice, we continue to question the utility of the category as a whole - especially with recent developments in iPod technology that have placed increased focus on on-screen content, as well as moving remote control access to the iPod’s Dock Connector. Regardless, for the most casual of iPod users, we’d feel comfortable offering a limited recommendation to the Belkin Holster cases on the merit of their affordability and build quality.

A Note From the Editors of iLounge: Though all products and services reviewed by iLounge are "final," many companies now make changes to their offerings after publication of our reviews, which may or may not be reflected above. This iLounge article provides more information on this practice, known as revving.

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Editors' Note: iLounge only reviews products in "final" form, but many companies now change their offerings - sometimes several times - after our reviews have been published. This iLounge article provides more information on this practice, known as revving.

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