Review: MCA Hautes Coutures Snow Case for iPod mini
Pros: Attractive leather case for the iPod mini, featuring suede interior and nice matching leather inner holster for the mini’s body.
Cons: Pricey for a PDA-style mini case; belt clip system is a piece of leather with a snap; portions of mini’s top and sides are exposed.
Since the early 2004 launch of the iPod mini, we’ve reviewed over 50 different cases tailored to the unique size and shape of Apple’s mid-sized iPod. Today, we finish a series of quick looks at eight additional cases that range in materials from rubbery plastic to leather and felt, and in place of origin from Sweden to Germany, Japan, China, and the United States.
The French-language product names and web site of MCA (Manhattan Cellular) are intended to convey a sense that there’s something special and fashionable about the company’s cases, and to some extent that’s true. Each of the Hautes Coutures cases we’ve looked at is at least visually interesting, and the Snow Case for iPod mini (39 € (Euros), approx. $48.00) is no exception: it’s a white, all leather PDA-style case with a soft suede interior and two sets of silver snaps.
Of the two general styles of PDA-style cases we’ve seen, Snow belongs to the “upside-down” variety - a flap covers its face when it’s closed, but opens from a snap on the top, rather than the bottom. It’s a design intended to be worn on a belt, so when you wear it that way, open the case and hold the iPod mini, it’s in the correct orientation for viewing and use before it hangs upside down. There’s no internal screen protector or Click Wheel protector, but neither is really needed; the case’s leather flap protects the mini when it needs protecting.
We liked several things about the case’s design - the white leather looks and feels nice, plus fits the iPod mini quite well as an internal holster. MCA’s only branding is a subtle embossed logo on one of the case’s faces - the case’s front, which covers the iPod mini’s back - another choice we liked. Similarly, the suede interior makes your mini seem better cared for than in Krusell’s Music Multidapt, which we looked at yesterday, and MCA’s decision not to leave a hole at the bottom for the iPod’s Dock Connector port is probably for the best - it’s more protective this way, and the port’s easy enough to access by opening the case if you need to, though people who use their iPods in their cars may not find this particular case to be the best solution because of this design choice.
There were also a few things that aren’t as universally appealing. The second of the case’s two snaps is the case’s belt clip - the only seriously controversial design touch, which is basically a flat, un-reinforced strap of leather that you loop around a belt and snap closed at the bottom. While we liked the fact that this strap is thin and matches the case without adding a lot of bulk, some people won’t like it as much as a detachable plastic clip. Additionally, the case does leave the iPod mini’s side corners exposed - the tops along with the headphone port and Hold switch, the bottoms only on the sides. This actually looks really nice with the silver iPod mini, but it’s not as protective as it could be - an issue common to many, but not all PDA-style cases. Finally, at 39 Euros, this is a fairly pricey iPod mini case - more than the comparably designed Venom mini case from Booq (iLounge rating: B+), Global Source’s Deluxe Leather Case (iLounge rating: B+), say nothing of many other good leather cases.
Overall, a few factors, mostly edge protectiveness and pricing, hold the Snow Case back from our high recommendation level. For less, you can find options such as the ones we mentioned above, but at the same level top-shelf cases such as Vaja’s iVod mini (iLounge rating: A) are available, as well. Therefore, it’s mostly a question of whether you really like Snow’s style enough to drop that sort of cash. Since it’s a well-made, nice-looking case, we could understand if you do.