Review: Marware TrailVue 4G
Pros: Attractive, resilient ballistic nylon carrying case for 4G iPods in classic flip-open PDA case style.
Cons: Bottom corners of iPod aren’t as protected as they could/should be; a little pricey.
Updated August, 2005: Subsequent to publication of our original review, Marware has made a small change to the design of the TrailVue which we depict and describe below our original text.
Last month, Marware took its first decisive step towards a hipper future with the TrailVue case for the iPod mini (iLounge rating: A-) - a ballistic nylon rethinking of the traditional flap-fronted leather PDA case. More resilient than a leather case and more stylish besides, the mini TrailVue came in seven color patterns and featured a prominent solid stripe that ran from the case’s front to its back.
Now Marware has updated the TrailVue for fourth-generation iPods ($34.95), and the result is equally impressive. Little has changed between the cases, so if you need the basic details, see our earlier review. In quick summary, TrailVue provides a single piece of internally reinforced ballistic nylon that wraps around the front, top, and back of the iPod, and an iPod sheathe made from clear vinyl with three holes - one at the top to insert the iPod, one for the Click Wheel, and one at the bottom with vinyl flaps that sit next to the Dock Connector port. The front of the case includes a circular rubber Marware logo, and the inside front flap a fabric Marware tag. A nice Marware detachable belt clip comes with each TrailVue case.
The only changes are in the TrailVue mini’s vinyl iPod sheathe, which in the 4G version includes ballistic nylon on its sides, and therefore looks even more consistent aesthetically when closed. Otherwise, it’s basically the same case as before, only larger.
Though the 4G TrailVue is hugely protective when closed, it isn’t perfect. For some reason, even after picking strong ballistic nylon to keep your iPod safe, Marware opted to entirely expose the two bottom corners of the iPod while it’s inside TrailVue. It’s a problem mostly because the front and rear flaps of the case won’t necessarily extend far enough past the iPod sheathe to protect the iPod’s corners against drop or scratch damage. We wish Marware had retained the all-fabric bottom from its similar leather C.E.O. Classic case, which better protected the iPod inside.
While we prefer the look of TrailVue to the C.E.O. Classic (and other traditional leather PDA-style cases), it’s a hint less protective, and priced the same, so they’re a bit of a draw in ratings. Additionally, some users may find the $34.95 price tag a bit steep for a non-leather, PDA-style case, but we’re generally inclined to accept it given the high quality of the workmanship and resilience of the TrailVue’s nylon body. We have no problem recommending the TrailVue highly to those who aren’t worried about damaging the bottom corners of their iPods, but wish we could give it an unqualified A, as we really otherwise liked the design.
August, 2005: An Updated Second Version of TrailVue
Every once in a while, a company makes a small change or two to an existing product, and we try to update our reviews when possible to reflect such changes. The currently shipping TrailVue has increased its use of ballistic nylon inside, specifically at the bottom below the iPod’s Click Wheel, and thereby decreasing the amount of clear PVC covering the iPod’s face. It has also slightly changed the shape and size of its headphone port hole at the top. As neither of the changes address the issues we identified as cons, our rating of the newer version of TrailVue remains the same.
Jeremy Horwitz is Editor-in-Chief of iLounge.