Review: Kroo Soho Leather Cases for iPod mini
Pros: A highly professional-looking leather iPod mini case, improving upon the standard iPod “sleeve” with a protective top flap and attractive leather loops. Very aggressive pricing.
Cons: No access to shuffle’s controls or screen when inside. Hold switch hole isn’t sized/aligned quite right. Belt loop may not suit some as well as belt clip, though we preferred it.
When beautiful leather is married to smart design, the results for an iPod case can be nothing short of spectacular. Vaja’s iVod mini (iLounge rating: A) has managed to pull off an almost perfect combination of good looks and functionality for some time, and other leather case makers have been playing catch-up. Now Kroo has introduced three different leather iPod mini cases - Soho, Laguna, and Executive ($19.95 each, available for $12 and up) - which are surprisingly attractive given their astonishingly low prices. We review each of these cases separately, but provide a reference picture of the entire collection for those who may be interested in seeing the other reviews.
Of Kroo’s three iPod mini case designs, Soho looks the best from the outside, but is the least practical in our view. On positive notes, it uses the same nice looking leather as its Kroo companions, and is available in the same female-friendly variety of seven colors. Our hot pink review unit looked really sharp, and featured a matching faux suede interior that kept our iPod mini from being scratched inside. Stitching, overall look, and materials were all really good, and as with the other cases, a Kroo logo is subtly embossed on the case’s bottom front corner - here, the right.
The case is also reasonably protective. A two-sectioned top flap opens to let you insert your iPod mini inside, and the Soho ultimately covers every part of your mini except for the sides of its top corners and its Hold switch. From case to case, Kroo’s holes are generally a little awkward, but thankfully the only one really affected here is the Hold switch hole; you’ll find it hard to use unless you align the mini inside to make contact with your finger.
To close the case, you tuck the flap into a fashionable leather ring on Soho’s front, and thanks to the cardboard-reinforced interior material, the flap holds closed without a problem. That reinforcing material is used on each part of the Soho except the small panel that covers the iPod mini’s top, the front leather loop loop, and a rear leather belt loop that doesn’t detach from the case in any way. A metal D-shaped loop lets you attach a wrist strap, hook, or lanyard to Soho, but none is included for the price.
Soho’s biggest issue is an obvious one: like a number of iPod sheathes that have been released, you have absolutely no access to the iPod inside unless you pull it out of the case. Some people don’t mind this; we do, given that there are so many cases that protect well while providing some form of screen and control access.
If you’re in the camp that likes sheathe-style cases, Soho has plenty to recommend it: an exceptionally attractive price point, good-looking leather, and a flip-closed top design that does more than the typical sheathe (say, Incase’s Leather Sleeve(iLounge rating: B-) to protect your iPod from damage. If you like how it looks - read: fashionable - it’s worth a try.