Review: Kroo Soho Leather Case for iPod shuffle
Pros: A highly professional-looking leather iPod shuffle case.
Cons: Rendered virtually unusable as advertised and designed because of a too-small headphone port and no Control Pad access through the hard case body. Doesn’t include a clip, which would be the only way to practically use the case outside of a pocket.
On the rare occasion that we rate a product with a grade of C- or lower, we tend to provide an extended description of our reasoning, followed by a helpful suggestion or two as to how such grades can be avoided. Given the impressive build quality and looks of a collection of new iPod mini and shuffle cases from Kroo, we weren’t expecting that any of them would score in this range, but as it turns out, one did. Despite its looks, the Soho Leather Case for iPod shuffle ($18.99, available for $10 and up) is actually so bad that we would recommend against its purchase. There are two reasons: the headphone port hole and your access to the iPod shuffle’s controls.
It’s easy to elaborate upon the case’s good points: it looks like an even higher-class version of Pods Plus’ Leather Case for iPod shuffle [url=http://www.ilounge.com/index.php/reviews/comments/pods-plus-leather-cases-for-ipod-shuffle-ipod/](iLounge rating: C+), which sells for a slightly higher price and exposed a lot of the shuffle’s body to possible scratch damage. Kroo’s leather looks sharp - our red sample looked like it was ready for a fashion boutique, beautiful in fit and finish on all edges. (Seven or eight colors are available, ranging from various reds and pinks to greens, oranges, yellows and black.) The iPod shuffle feels very well-protected inside, with the sole exception of its USB cap, which because of the flap design is exposed on its sides. A soft (“suede texture”) felt-like interior material is shuffle-safe. And in addition to precision stitching, the case is reinforced on all of its sides with cardboard.
Kroo’s hard protection is so strong, in fact, that you can’t access your shuffle’s controls in any way when it’s inside the case - either the front for volume, tracks, and play/pause, or the back for power and playback modes. This isn’t a problem in concept, assuming you get your shuffle perfectly set up and then stick it into the case. But practically, it’s a serious problem because of the case’s tiny bottom-mounted headphone port. It’s really tiny - the size of the iPod’s own port - and consequently Apple’s headphones pop out of the hole almost instantly when they’re inserted.
Frequent iPod shuffle users will recognize the problem with this right away. Pull the iPod shuffle’s headphones and the shuffle automatically pauses. To unpause the shuffle, you need to use the controls. To use the controls with the Kroo case, you need to remove the shuffle. And if you try to plug the headphones back in again, they’re going to pop right out.
It bears only brief mention that third-party headphones with larger plugs than Apple’s won’t even fit into the shuffle to begin with when the case is used as shown online. If you want to find any way to use the Kroo case, you’ll need to flip the shuffle upside down, keep the flap permanently open, and use the metal D-ring on the case’s back to mount your shuffle on a bag or belt with the company’s caribineer-style belt clip - which isn’t included for the price, and wasn’t provided for review.
The fact that you can actually use the case in some manner, albeit not the advertised or expected way, is the only reason for the + on this grade. Because of the headphone port issue, and unlike basically every other case we’ve tested, Kroo’s case is entirely useless with Apple’s lanyard necklace, and highly likely to disappoint people who plan to use the case in anything other than the awkward way we described above. Though beautiful to the eye and touch, it’s poorly executed in the critical design elements that define an practically acceptable iPod shuffle case, and really needs to be retooled to provide some modest measure of iPod control access - perhaps with a soft spot in the leather where the control pad is - and a bigger headphone port.