Review: Belkin NE Classic Leather Case for iPod mini
Pros: An attractive leather case with a good compromise between protectiveness and practicality, featuring a clear PVC front panel for generally solid screen and control access. A good belt clip with headphone cord management is generally a plus, as is a good Dock Connector port hole.
Cons: Belt clip is non-detachable, top surface of iPod is almost entirely exposed, as are side metal corners. Styling is good, but not as sharp as Belkin’s inspirational Sports Leather Case.
Having recently had the opportunity to check out the entirety of Belkin’s very large case lineup, we wanted to bring you reviews of all ten of them in a timely fashion. Today, we wrap up our reviews with looks at five different iPod mini and iPod shuffle cases.
Our favorite of Belkin’s full-sized iPod cases was the Sports Leather Case (iLounge rating: A-), a stylish black and gray sleeve that came with a bunch of different accessories. A smaller, simplified version is now also available for the iPod mini as the Classic Leather Case ($34.99, street price $23 and up). The cases generally share the same body styles and workmanship, but the iPod mini version loses the attractive racing and pin stripes found in the full-sized iPod edition, as well as all of its detachable accessories, and instead incorporates a non-detachable but interesting new belt clip.
The resulting case is made from white leather with prominent dark gray side stitching - a design that calls to mind but improves functionally upon Incase’s earlier Handcrafted Leather Sleeve (iLounge rating: B). Both cases cover most of the iPod mini’s body but expose its plastic top and metal top corners; Belkin adds a thin, at least partially protective strip of leather to the top that gets inserted into a hole in the case’s back. The newer case also adds a single clear PVC cover for the iPod mini’s screen and controls, a solution that’s pretty easy to see through and reasonable - not spectacular - to use your iPod through.
As with Belkin’s Sports Leather Case, the Classic Leather Case’s bottom hole is large enough that most Dock Connector accessories will connect without a problem. In fact, other than the lack of stripes, because of which the Sports Leather Case has the edge, those two cases are in fact very similar in design and protectiveness. In other words, this is a pretty protective case, but a little extra leather at the top corners wouldn’t have hurt.
Rather than include the detachable belt clip, nub, and two elastic bands that came with the full-sized Sports case, the Classic case includes a hard plastic belt clip with a cord management feature. There’s room at the top and bottom of the clip to wind your headphone cords around - a nice if simple idea that adds to the case’s convenience. While sturdy, Belkin’s belt clip is regrettably a one-piece design that has no spring mechanism, so while it should be adequate for most people, it’s not the best we’ve seen.
As leather cases go, this is a very good but not great one, made better than similar options because of its added Click Wheel protectiveness and its price. You’ll have to be willing to risk a few scratches to the iPod mini’s top surface (and corners), and it’s not quite as impressively styled as its similar full-sized iPod version, but other than that, we have little reservation in recommending it to our readers.