Review: Marware C.E.O. Slim for iPod nano
As we've noted many times over the past year, we find it impossible to get excited about flip-style leather PDA cases for iPods and iPhones. The design, repeated over and over again with only minor variations in features, is tiresome and outdated, with a face-covering lid that prevents you from using the screen or controls unless you open it up -- an inconvenience that's less sufferable on Apple's video-friendly devices than their music-only predecessors. For that reason, and as much as we generally like Marware's cases, we're not enthusiastic about the new C.E.O. Flip Vue ($30) or C.E.O. Cover Vue ($30) for iPhone, though we were slightly more pleased by the C.E.O. Slim Fold for iPod nano ($25), and then again by the lid-less C.E.O. Slim for iPod nano ($20).
Slim Fold and Slim share a name and leather body, but differ in practicality and pricing. Slim Fold is a PDA-style flip case, essentially Flip Vue at a lower price, minus the belt clip and front styling, and made specifically for the third-generation iPod nano. Those familiar with flip cases will find this in no way remarkable, but Marware here has gone with a design that is extremely thin, adding little to the nano’s slender body, while still using good leather for the enclosure. While our standard comments on the impracticality of flip cases still stand, Slim Fold is almost like a pocketless mini-wallet, and sort of cool if you’re mostly using your nano for music. It covers all of the nano’s body, using a magnetic bottom to open as much or as little as you need to connect accessories. As with the iPhone cases, black or brown versions are your only options.
By contrast, the standard Slim case is the type of leather case we’d expect most iPod nano users to consider worthwhile. It’s less expensive than Slim Fold, possesses the same belt clip-less and styling limitations, but provides full-time screen and Click Wheel access through a clear plastic front of the case. You can choose from black, red, or tan colors for the leather, and as with Slim Fold, Marware includes screen and Click Wheel film—here, unnecessary—as well as a cleaning cloth in the package.
Slim effectively demonstrates why PDA-style cases such as Slim Fold, Cover Vue, and Flip Vue are dinosaurs: you give up virtually none of the protection by losing the lid, and gain lots of ease of use in the process. The only difference is that Slim Fold’s magnetic bottom recesses the nano a little more under flaps of leather, providing more coverage for the Hold switch and headphone port, while Slim uses a tab of leather that completely covers the Dock Connector unless you pull it open. Unless you’re not using the nano’s headphone port, the practical protectiveness difference here is 1-2%, but the convenience factor of being able to instantly access the nano’s controls and screen is huge.
Overall, though none of the flip-style cases rises to our “excited” A level of recommendability, none is awful for its asking price, either, and the standard Slim is a legitimately great option for its $20 tag. Cover Vue rates lowest because its bottom flap, while adding a little in protectivity, detracts from usability and doesn’t accomplish the stand-up mounting purpose it was intended for, while the more stylish and practical Flip Vue rates a little better for the same price. Slim Fold is even better as its slender design is well-suited to the nano’s, and the lid-less Slim offers the best functionality and pricing of the bunch. If you’re looking for a smart leather case for the third-generation nano, consider Slim a top option, and Slim Fold quite nice, but a couple of steps behind in practicality.