Model: MetroVue mini
Compatible: iPod mini
Marware MetroVue mini
Pros: Simple PDA-style case for the iPod mini with Dock Connector and headphone port access, modern design.
Cons: Inexpensive (per case, at least) and feels it; a stripped version of Marware’s superior TrailVue case that’s thinner, painted, and not as nice around the edges.
Last month, we reviewed and strongly liked Marware’s TrailVue for the iPod mini (iLounge rating: A-), a resilient and stylish PDA-style case with a partially vinyl interior. Now Marware is offering MetroVue ($39.95 per three-pack), a cheaper, simpler, and less resilient version of TrailVue with different materials and workmanship. While we strongly preferred TrailVue to MetroVue for our own needs, both products will likely have their fans.
In sum, MetroVue is TrailVue-lite. Intended as a hipster, urban kid version of the TrailVue, it eschews the TrailVue’s heavy ballistic nylon in favor of a thinner, less resilient nylon, and drops the TrailVue’s fabric stripe in favor of three painted-on parallel stripes that run from the front of the case to the back. Individual cases aren’t available; Marware offers a “girl pack” in female-friendly colors (grays accented with pink, purple, or baby blue stripes) and a “guy pack” (blacks and grays with bolder yellow, red, and blue stripes).
Perhaps MetroVue suffers by comparison with the impressive TrailVue, but we couldn’t help but feel as if the materials chosen for this product just weren’t quite right. On the positive side, you get a case design almost identical in concept to the TrailVue - clear vinyl iPod holder inside, single-piece hard shell wrapping around it, with a Velcro closing bottom flap. It still has the detachable quality Marware clip, protects the iPod mini pretty much the same, and so on. MetroVue is also a couple of millimeters thinner (and less dense) overall than TrailVue, adding only the slightest extra thickness to your iPod mini, if that matters to you.
But the lack of ballistic nylon renders the MetroVue’s various pieces sort of flimsy - in addition to feeling thin and not especially resilient, the front flap is held closed by a squared-off piece of backpack strap fabric rather than the rounded-edged nylon latch of the TrailVue, and the Velcro backing just isn’t as attractively designed. Even the iPod mini vinyl holder is a little less impressive than the one in TrailVue - slightly tighter and not as smooth at its edges.
Not for lack of trying, Marware’s painted stripes on MetroVue don’t look as good as the fabric stitched ones on TrailVue, and there’s no rubber headphone spacer - just a similarly-sized hole in the case’s top reinforced by token stitching in the same place. Rather than attaching the TrailVue’s rubberized Marware logo on the front of the case, or stitching their name onto an interior label, Marware painted both the logo and its name on the inside front flap. It’s neither bad nor an especially attractive touch.
In each of its details, we could not help but feel that MetroVue was designed solely to strip as many of the nice touches off of TrailVue as possible - probably to reduce costs - without rendering the case dramatically less protective in the process. Ballistic nylon gives way to thinner fabric, stitching to paint, and super stitching to simple stitching. The result is a case that’s only a small step above okay in our judgment, not failing in any particular way, but also nowhere near as impressive as the TrailVue overall. MetroVue’s primary virtue is its price: MetroVues are available in packs of three for $39.95, which comes out to around $13 per case, a fair price individually and one that we could recommend as an option to younger buyers. We’d recommend that adults and more discerning consumers stick with the TrailVue - a single case will likely prove more resilient and attractive, besides.
Jeremy Horwitz is Editor-in-Chief of iLounge.