Review: Incase Travel Kit
Pros: Resilient ballistic nylon travel case with room for an iPod and some accessories. Includes car and home power charger with clean, better than average audio.
Cons: Case is large and pricey by comparison with other travel cases, somewhat offset by inclusion of charger; as a retooled version of Monster iCase, omits useful iSplitter audio splitter.
More than a year ago, Monster Cable released the iCase (iLounge rating: B), a ballistic nylon travel case for 3G iPods that seemed a bit oversized at the time, but felt resilient and well-made. Today, the iCase still remains one of the largest iPod holders ever sold, and one of the only ones with a folio-style collection of slots for CDs, maps, and other items in addition to an iPod and accessories.
As it turns out, the iCase was developed for Monster by Incase, which has since gone on to release a wide array of smaller iPod holders that we’ve reviewed. With the release of the 4G iPod and its expanded market presence, Incase has retooled the iCase under its own brand name as the Travel Kit ($69.95), preserving the resilient exterior and folio slots, but tweaking its internal iPod compartments, changing its color, and replacing its pack-ins. While just as large and pricey as its predecessor, the Travel Kit’s now compatible with a wider variety of iPods, and features the version 2 Incase Charger (iLounge rating: B) - a dual purpose wall/car charger with line-out audio capability.
The Travel Kit retains the same body design as iCase: a two-flap folder with space for maps, CDs and flat accessories on the left, iPod, Charger, cables and other bulky accessories on the right. Incase now uses gray ballistic nylon for the case rather than black, and one-size-fits-all mesh netting for all of the right side compartments instead of iPod-specific components. As a result, your iPod doesn’t have a Click Wheel-specific hole in the front of its holder, but any iPod from 1G to mini (except the iPod shuffle) fits in the spot without looking awkward. Elastic on the mesh pockets keeps the components from falling out or rattling around inside.
As with the iCase, a zipper holds the entire Travel Kit closed, and when it’s all zipped up, it’s as protective as you’d expect; nothing gets in or out unless you open the zipper. However, because of its size and the fact that the iPod is situated near the center right of the right side flap, it’s not the most practical case for iPod listening while shut; you’ll need to open it at least a little (probably more) in order to use the iPod’s controls unless you have a remote control.
The change in pack-ins left us somewhat torn. Monster includes the iSplitter headphone jack splitter with each iCase, as well as a simple car charger (iCharger) that is fine for on-the-go iPod power. We liked the iSplitter, a very travel-appropriate pack-in that hasn’t been replaced here in functionality by Incase. On the other hand, Incase’s Charger with a line-out port and the ability to work in homes and cars is better than the simple charger that Monster included with the iCase. All things considered, it’s a wash, but we wish the iSplitter (or an equivalent) was still in the package.
Overall, the Incase Travel Kit is pretty much the same as the version Monster released some time ago - a case on the bare edge of our recommended rating because of its size and price, but possessing both solid build quality and a useful pack-in that eliminates the need to carry around separate wall and car chargers parts. There are better travel cases, but this one’s pretty good.