Review: Marware C.E.O. Classic for iPod video / U2
Pros: A quality leather convertible PDA-style case that, with the aid of two detachable front lids, is almost entirely protective of the fifth-generation iPod’s body. One front lid provides screen access and play-through Click Wheel protection, while the other provides full frontal coverage and a small card pocket. Very good included belt clip, reasonable price.
Cons: Click Wheel hole alignment is off-center inside of core case, more notably with the 60GB iPod inside, and integrated screen protector distorts a little bit. Controls aren’t as easy to use through play-through lid as might be hoped, and this lid is loose no matter which thickness of iPod is inside.
For years, Marware’s used the “C.E.O. Classic” name to describe its unusually versatile leather PDA case for full-sized iPods, but it might be time for a new title. The latest iteration of C.E.O., called C.E.O. Classic for iPod video ($35), is the company’s most adaptable model yet, now a three-piece design consisting of an iPod holder, two interchangeable front lids, and a detachable belt clip. A single size of the case is sold as a one-size-fits-all offering for 30GB and 60GB fifth-generation iPods. Updated August 9, 2006: In early August, 2006, Marware released a second version of C.E.O. Classic specifically for the iPod U2 Special Edition. Photos and details are at the bottom of this review.
You start by placing your iPod inside the core enclosure, the outside of which is mostly good black full-grain leather, with gray stripes of flexible elastic on the left and right sides. The interior’s a mix of soft fabrics that won’t scratch your fifth-generation iPod, the back a dark gray suede-like material with Marware’s name and logo embossed out of general view. Because of the elastic sides, both 30GB and 60GB models fit in the case, but like the earlier C.E.O. Classic we tested, the fit’s not quite as good on thicker iPods as it is on thinner ones. With either iPod inserted, you’ll notice that the Click Wheel hole is unusually large and not quite perfectly centered, an issue that is more noticeable on the 60GB iPod than the 30GB one. On the bright side, you do have full access to each iPod’s controls and screen. An acceptable integrated clear plastic protector covers the iPod’s display at all times, creating a small amount of prismatic distortion.
Without the lids attached, your iPod’s entire top is exposed, as is its bottom Dock Connector port. But if you attach either of the two lids, these gaps in protection can largely be remedied: each lid attaches with two snaps to the case’s top rear and one snap to the bottom rear, covering the Dock Connector port and most of the iPod’s top in the process. We like this approach quite a bit.
The “classic” lid is similar but not identical to its iPod 4G predecessor, neatly designed with a three-sectioned front pocket large enough for a business or credit card, and an interior suede-like surface that matches the C.E.O.‘s iPod-obscured insides. Gray stitching now accents the three front sections, as well as the trim of the rest of the case, a nice stylistic touch. There’s only one hole in the top of this lid, and that’s for the iPod’s headphone port. It initially looks too small, but even our most oversized headphones worked with it without a problem - unless you play with the lid and pop them out. Practically, this isn’t much of an issue.
Marware’s new second lid is clearly an accommodation - and a generally appropriate one - for those who intend to make full-time use of the iPod’s video display. It attaches to the iPod’s back just like the first lid, but has two extra holes, one for the iPod’s Hold switch, and one for its screen. The core case’s clear protector provides adequate display protection; this lid is only here to protect most of the iPod’s top, its Dock Connector, and its Click Wheel. An embossed leather surface now provides control protection, and though it’s not as easy to use the iPod’s buttons and touch-sensitive controls as most of the Click Wheel protectors we’ve seen, it’s not impossible, either. We’d rate this lid a 5 out of 10 on ease of use, and a 8 out of 10 on protectivity.
With either of the lids on, the only other gaps in C.E.O. Classic’s iPod protection are on its sides: there are two small holes in the core case’s bottom corners, and the second lid is loose regardless of the thickness of iPod you’re using, leaving holes between itself and the case beneath. Our feeling is that the second lid should have been tighter, as it would have looked and protected a bit better - the case falls from its otherwise high recommendation in part because of the looseness of this component. Yet like its predecessor, with the standard lid on, this is a highly protective case, with only a tiny amount of needlesly exposed iPod surface.
The only other functional factor worth noting is a static one across virtually all of Marware’s cases: there’s a detachable, spring-loaded Krusell Multidapt belt clip in every package, which we continue to think is one of the best we’ve seen in combined build quality and thin profile. While it’s not the easiest clip to remove, it’s otherwise very good, and the only external part of the case marked with the Marware name and logo - then only in small lettering on its bottom.
Our feelings on the latest version of C.E.O. Classic are much as they were with its predecessor - as before, only a few issues detract from what’s otherwise a really smart and versatile leather design, sold at a reasonable overall price. Because of its convertible features and detachable belt clip, this is one of the better PDA-style cases we’ve seen, and particularly worthy of a recommendation for owners of the 30GB fifth-generation iPod.
C.E.O. Classic for iPod U2 Special Edition
In August, 2006, Marware released a slightly updated version of C.E.O. Classic made to appeal to users of Apple’s iPod U2 Special Edition. This new version features red stitching on each of its three leather pieces, and red elastic stripes on the main iPod holder component. Gray suede is still found on the inside of each piece.
The red components nicely match the red Click Wheel of the latest iPod, so if you’re looking for something tailor-made to match that model, this case is certainly amongst the best we’ve seen.