Review: BoxWave Designio Leather Shell Case for iPod 5G (video)
Today, we're doing reviews of several fifth-generation iPod cases that we consider to be somewhat similar to one another: using familiar shapes, they differ mostly in materials and pricing. For several reasons, none merited our standard-level recommendation; in a marketplace crowded with 5G case options, all of them could have benefitted substantially from design and price tweaks.
Sold in separate sizes for 30GB and 60/80GB fifth-generation iPods, Boxwave’s all-black Designio Leather Shell Case ($40) could be billed as inspired by Vaja’s better-known series of iVod/i-Volution puffed leather cases: it’s a taut leather and suede-covered hard shell that masks much of a 5G iPod’s body. But it would be hard to really confuse Vaja’s and Boxwave’s designs: Designio lacks Vaja’s frills, including puffed leather, multiple colors, and included screen or Click Wheel protection, and also carries a lower price.
Boxwave does include a detachable belt clip and belt clip nub, however, along with a thin fabric carrying bag. The idea appears to be that if you’re not satisfied with the case’s lack of iPod protection, you can always toss it into the extra bag to carry it around. We’ve never been fans of this sort of catchall design, and don’t really see this as a viable option for most users; we want (and reward) cases that integrate as much protection as possible into the base case, rather than an afterthought bag.
Designio isn’t a bad case, but it’s not a great one, either. Like some of the other so-so designs we’ve seen, it suffers from small but noticeable iPod screen and Click Wheel hole misalignment, and though the black leather is nicely stitched and wrapped around the shell, it doesn’t look particularly expensive and is easy to mar with scuffs and scratches. The case is also tight enough that it’s extremely hard to get the iPod out, which is an issue in that you can’t dock the iPod in most Universal Dock wells while it’s inside. The Dock Connector port is big enough for Apple’s and some third-party accessories, but not the most oversized ones.
Like many cases of this type, Designio’s approach to iPod protection is partial. It offers full rear and side protection, and covers as much of the iPod’s face as was originally colored white or black. It also covers the 5G’s bottom, save for the aforementioned Dock Connector hole, but offers no protection for the iPod’s top or top side corners. This has traditionally been an issue with leather case designs; we’re still waiting for a company to properly cover the iPod’s top with either leather or a related material.
From our perspective, if you’re asking $40 for an iPod case, it really had better offer nearly complete iPod face protection - and something special besides - if it is to justify that price. Given what it’s up against, BoxWave’s offering is not only seriously me-too and forgettable, but also deficient in the simple things - namely, near-complete face protection, and color options - we’d typically expect from cases selling for much less; its only arguable saving grace is that Boxwave currently offers it at a $10 discount on its web site. Even then, its single biggest asset is its slimness; if that’s something you value enough to deal with having to pry your iPod out, and don’t mind its absent protection, you’ll like it better than we did.