Company: Griffin Technology
Model: California Roll
Compatible: iPod 1G, 2G, 3G, 4G, 5G, mini
Griffin Technology California Roll Elegant Roll-Up Carrying Case for iPods
Contributing Editor, iLounge
Published: Saturday, November 25, 2006
Category: Cases - iPods + Accessories, iPod 1G + 2G (without Dock Connector), iPod 3G (with Dock Connector), iPod 4G/HP/U2 + photo (with Click Wheel), iPod 5G (with Video), iPod mini
Pros: A simple, affordable travel case with three pockets for an iPod and accessories, closed with a strong elastic strap; works with most iPod models.
Cons: Travel-case design doesn’t allow use of the iPod while inside; Case’s small size prevents it from carrying substantial items.
We can’t claim to be huge fans of Griffin’s California Roll: it’s a three-compartment case with room in any of the compartments for your iPod or small accessories, folding and being held closed by an integrated elastic strap. Multiple shiny plastic colors are offered - blue, red, black, and the olive-ish one reviewed here.
The California Roll is a simple but unique case. It’s essentially one long piece of flexible plastic fabric, lined with a soft interior and nicely finished around the edges. Inside, there’s one thick padded pocket intended for your iPod, and two thinner mesh pockets for accessories, though any pocket can accommodate even a thick 60GB or older iPod. All three pockets close with a small Velcro fixture.
One concern we had with the fit and finish of the case was one that impacts its usability relative to its design intent: there’s simply not enough material to accept substantial items in the interior pockets. We carried our 60GB 5G iPod with its headphones and USB cable, and the case felt as if it was at capacity. Due to this, you can’t expect to use the California Roll to carry much, or along with another substantial case on your iPod - especially if you have a full-size iPod, or expect to more fully utilize the accessory pockets. A bit more slack would have been desirable, given that the case’s major attraction is its carrying ability.
As with most travel-style ‘carrier’ cases, the California Roll doesn’t offer much in-case iPod accessibility. When in the case, you’ll be able to leave a pair of headphones plugged in for listening, and while there may not be much reason to, you’ll be able to access the iPod’s Hold Switch. Otherwise, this clearly isn’t - and wasn’t designed to be - a case to use the iPod in.
Even though not everyone will prefer it, California Roll’s design scores a couple uniqueness points in our Special Feature category. The simple, fastener-less elastic closure sets it apart from other soft cases, and the minimalist, small twist on the typical ‘travel carrier’ case is an interesting idea.
Though the California Roll’s wrap-around design doesn’t allow much use of the iPod inside, it does a good job at protecting it. We award 7 out of 8 coverage points here, as only the iPod’s top is partially exposed when the California Roll is closed, and we add another point for the thick fabric material padding the iPod.
At only $20, the California Roll is a good buy for a full-size iPod case, so if you like the design, we’d feel alright recommending it. However, we’re not fans of the design. The case seems to be caught between two entirely different styles: large, roomy, accessory-toting travel cases, and smaller fabric iPod-only cases. Without the ability to carry much, or the ability to use the iPod while in the case, California Roll really loses the appeal of both styles. However, if you’re only looking for something to carry your iPod along with its headphones and something else small, and you don’t feel you need a case that protects the iPod as you use it, then this is worth a look.
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.