Review: Capdase Leather Case and Syncha for iPod shuffle 2nd Generation
Compatible: iPod shuffle (aluminum)
Pros: Leather case available in four color choices, each with an included lanyard, clip and USB dock alternative so that you can recharge and sync shuffle while still in case—the first such pack-in of its kind. Aggressively priced.
Cons: Unimpressive protection, leather quality, and workmanship for the case. USB key has issues with Mac computers.
Though we try to be as objective as possible when reviewing products, Capdase’s Leather Case was a disappointment from the moment we opened its package. From its cheap-looking leather to unsteady stitching and an unattractive overall design, the leather shuffle holder just looks and feels unremarkable. Though it’s available in four different colors, users should note that the lighter colors, particularly white, show dirt and scratches fairly easily, and the other colors don’t look especially pure straight out of the box.
The only integrated offset is a decent spring-loaded metal hook, which can be linked to a matching lanyard necklace. Not surprisingly, the coordinating lanyard’s relatively small hook looks strange when paired with the case’s giant hook, and the package feels like it was slapped together from spare parts Capdase had sitting around in its factory. It’s yet another Capdase design where the case looks inconsistent with the coordinating accessories, an issue we hope is remedied in future products.
Functionally, and by comparison with some of the better cases we’ve seen, the Capdase Leather Case does not provide the shuffle with what we feel to be adequate protection. Oversized openings in all four corners leave the shuffle unnecessarily exposed, allowing its edges to be easily scratched. While the larger holes do allow for larger headphones and the included USB dock to be used with the shuffle, there is too much open metal to use this case safely in a pocket; it’s really only useful if you want to dangle the shuffle from the hook and aren’t concerned that it might fall out of the open edge.
One smart decision that Capdase made was to include a USB key—a miniature iPod shuffle dock that can be used to recharge the shuffle while it’s still inside the case. Capdase calls this a Syncha, and glosses it up beyond Incipio’s earlier IncipioBud by adding a blue power LED and a larger hole for attachment to a keychain. Unfortunately, a recent software update has compromised the Syncha’s compatibility—as well as IncipioBud’s—with the Mac computer. Three out of the four times we tested the Syncha with two different Mac computers, we received an error message telling us that the Syncha was consuming too much USB power, and that the Mac OS was going to disable the USB port as a consequence. We re-tested IncipioBud and had the same issue, while Apple’s own shuffle Dock worked fine. Thankfully, we did not have this problem when we tested the Syncha with Windows, so it’s our assumption that this is an Apple issue, not a Capdase one.
So why, then, a B rating overall for this product? We liked the idea of pairing a USB key with a shuffle case, and the Capdase Leather Case and Syncha would have rated considerably lower if it weren’t for this component, which makes charging much easier and brings up the apparent value of this product to a much higher level than it could have earned with only the Leather Case. But there’s no getting around the fact the case is trashy; other shuffle cases we have reviewed are more protective, stylish and easy to use. Since you can get a third party USB key such as the IncipioBud for around $8, our feeling is that your money would be better spent finding a shuffle case you really liked and purchasing a separate USB key, but if you’re looking for cheap-looking protection at a cheap overall price, the Leather Case and Syncha set offers an affordable option, particularly for buyers outside of the United States.