Review: Belkin NE Deluxe Leather Case for iPod
Model: Deluxe Leather Case for iPod
Compatible: iPod 3G, 4G, color/photo*
Pros: A classy wallet-style case made from good black leather, and accented internally and externally with nice gray touches. Use of iPod inside isn’t too difficult.
Cons: Portions of iPod’s top and bottom are exposed when case is closed. Because it’s a wallet-style design, non-detachable belt clip may not suit all users’ needs. PVC inside isn’t easiest for use with iPod’s controls. Fits all full-sized iPods, but thicker color models aren’t as well-aligned inside.
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. Over the course of the next two days, we’ll look at five cases per day, moving quickly through the good and bad points of each one. Today’s cases are all for full-sized iPods, and though most are designed as one-size-fits-all offerings, most are better suited for black-and-white 20GB and 40GB fourth-generation iPods, or 20/30GB color ones, than thicker 40GB or 60GB color models.
On looks, one of our two favorite cases of the bunch is Belkin’s NE Deluxe Leather Case for iPod ($59.99, street price $29 and up), a classy wallet-style design made predominantly with medium-grade black leather, metallic gray stitching, and several metal accents. The interior of the case uses black and gray nylon to form a small credit card-sized pocket, as well as soft gray fabric on all parts that touch a fourth-generation iPod. Two snaps hold the case closed on its front; a hard belt clip covered in black and gray leather is at its back. You can pivot the belt clip so that the case can be worn vertically or horizontally on your belt.
Belkin’s actual iPod holder is a generic one-size-fits all leather enclosure that opens from the side and covers any 4G or color/photo iPod’s face with soft plastic called PVC. It’s not difficultt to use the iPod’s Click Wheel, but the PVC doesn’t make it as easy as we’ve seen, either. With thicker iPods - 60GB iPods, which are the same thickness as 40/60GB iPod photos - alignment of the front is a bit off, but then, Belkin probably didn’t design the case with these later-to-be-“iPods” in mind. It is clearly best suited to 20GB and 40GB black and white iPods, with 20GB and 30GB color iPods fitting just fine, too. All of their left sides are exposed inside, but when the case closes, the only exposed iPod parts are sections of their tops and bottoms.
Specifically, the Deluxe Leather Case exposes an iPod’s bottom corners, Dock Connector port, top corners and extended headphone port. It’s easy to access any of the iPod’s parts with these holes - using Apple accessories - but the Dock Connector hole is small for larger third-party add-ons. The headphone port can be used with any third-party headphones, though.
The biggest selling point of the Deluxe Leather Case is classy styling. It’s nicer-looking than most of the cases we’ve previously reviewed with the same generic name, and though it exposes parts of the iPod in a way that isn’t well-suited to bags full of sharp objects, there’s enough leather on each side to form a small buffer against drops. It’s a good, but not great compromise in that regard. That said, its wallet-like characteristics and non-detachable belt clip are an uneasy match. It would be a surprise to see any woman wearing this on a belt, yet it looks like the sort of case you’d see coming out of a purse. That factor - the apparent attempt to make this case work for two audiences, when a detachable belt clip would have worked better for both of them - was the single biggest issue weighing this case down from a higher rating.
As a final note, we’ll mention that we flinched more than a bit at the case’s $59.99 stated price through Belkin, but were relieved to find that - as with most Belkin accessories - the actual street price of the Deluxe Leather Case was considerably lower when we checked around. If you’re as impressed by its looks as we were, and don’t mind the belt clip, shop around - you’ll save quite a bit by doing so.