Review: Incase Leather and Neoprene Sleeves for iPod classic
As much as we like the sound quality, capacity, and battery life of the iPod classic, its iPod 5G-like body style has made it pretty predictable as far as cases are concerned, with the latest releases strongly resembling the ones we've seen for the past two-plus years. Today, we briefly look at four new iPod classic case releases: Incase's Leather Sleeve ($30) and Neoprene Sleeve ($30), Marware's SportGrip ($15), and Noreve's Tradition Leather Case ($40). All four are much like identically named products for other iPod models, and though none is a breakthrough, SportGrip continues to impress in build quality and protectiveness for the dollar.
With strong similarities to the company’s same-named products for the third-generation iPod nano and iPod touch, Incase’s new Leather Sleeve and Neoprene Sleeve for iPod classic are also very similar to one another, except for small differences in materials. Both cases cover the entire classic except for its Click Wheel, Dock Connector port, and two top corners; they each include integrated clear plastic screen protectors with only slight prismatic distortion, and use a combination of a semi-hard face shield and fully hard, non-detachable belt clip with considerably softer sides and backs.
The differences are these. Leather Sleeve is almost entirely made from contrast-stitched black leather, which covers the face, integrated rear belt clip and everything else save thin strips of classic’s sides, which have stripes of neoprene that expand or contract for 80GB and 160GB iPod classic models. By comparison, Neoprene Sleeve replaces most of the leather with stitched black or pink plastic, with even more color-matched neoprene on the sides for the same expansion effect. Leather Sleeve leaves a little more space for the iPod’s Dock Connector, but you can stretch the hole on Neoprene Sleeve to become roughly the same size if necessary, and both can be used inside of Adapter-less Universal iPod Docks. The cases are otherwise identical; they both seal shut at the top with Velcro tabs.
It’s worth pointing out that while both of these cases are a little nicer-looking than Incase’s prior-generation Neoprene Sleeve for iPod 5G, they’re not as protective or as numerous in color. Though slightly saggier, the prior Neoprene Sleeve managed to cover more of the iPod’s top and its entire Click Wheel, and it sold for $5 less than today’s version. While we prefer the current Sleeves’ looks, the prior ones were a better deal for the dollar.
In our view, Leather Sleeve is a modestly better value than today’s Neoprene Sleeve given that they’re the same price, based on Leather Sleeve’s superior materials and slightly classier looks. Inside, it features the company’s topographic map-etched velvet, rather than the simple neoprene of the other model, a touch that suggests that it was made to be the pricier case of the pair. But as with the other Incase Sleeves, if you’re hungering for a pink version, your only choice is the Neoprene Sleeve, which isn’t less impressive enough to deter anyone from a purchase. Neither case is as ideally protective as we’d prefer, but they’re both nice designs, and very easy to use with the classic.