Company: Incase Designs
Model: Handcrafted Leather Sleeve
Compatible: iPod mini
Incase Handcrafted Leather Sleeve
Pros: A fashionable mini case that recalls a different time and place.
Cons: Moderate protection, visual appeal will be greater to certain women than others, higher price puts it in competition with the mini’s top cases.
Maybe it reminds us of the 1980’s, or just calls to mind women in Western-style leather, but Incase’s new Handcrafted Leather Sleeve for iPod mini immediately brings to mind an old favorite movie image: actress Mia Sara in her Ferris Bueller’s Day Off co-starring role as girlfriend Sloane Peterson. Surely you remember her beauty, her soft leather jacket, and her classy (but not too classy) look?
Well, that’s the Handcrafted Leather Sleeve in a nutshell. Clearly a woman’s iPod mini accessory, it’s an attractive leather case available in three colors - white, powder blue and black. Hand-stitched together on both sides and its bottom, the $39.95 Incase design looks equally cowgirl or American Indian in style, with a small integrated clear vinyl screen protector in front and a thin integrated belt clip on the back. Otherwise open on its face, top and upper sides, the Sleeve isn’t the most protective we’ve seen for the iPod mini, leaving a piece of the mini’s front metal exposed and the entirety of the Click Wheel.
Though a leather interior promises to protect the iPod from scratching, we noticed a small tear on the inner leather itself - nothing that would be visible when a mini was inside, but somewhat of a surprise nonetheless. Since we didn’t abuse the case in our testing, we believe that the tear was there when we received the case or developed quickly during normal use, but doubt that it’s indicative of the quality of the rest of the Incase line. The exterior and other interior leather shows no signs of damage, and in fact looks quite good.
Regardless, iPod protection probably isn’t as important for this case’s target audience as appearance. And the Handcrafted Leather Sleeve is definitely fashionable, if a bit pricey. Only $10 shy of Vaja’s iVod mini case - our leather favorite - neither the Sleeve’s leather quality nor its fit and finish struck us as quite up to Vaja’s snuff. Perhaps we’ve been spoiled by the aggressive pricing of Global Source’s PDA case-like Deluxe Leather Case, which demonstrated that less than $30 could buy a nice-looking and protective medium-grade leather sheathe for the iPod mini, but even so, $40 seems a fair bit to spend for any but the best iPod mini cases.
In our book, the Handcrafted Leather Sleeve is more than just an “okay” product, but its pricetag may limit its appeal to a narrow market. If we were grading on a letter scale, we’d call it a B product, deserving of a plus if you’re a leather loving lady with extra cash, a minus otherwise.
Jeremy Horwitz is Senior Editor of iLounge and practices intellectual property law in his spare time. His recent book, Law School Insider, has been called the “best book about law school - ever,” and he continues to contribute to Ziff-Davis electronic entertainment magazines.