Company: Pacific Design
Model: Flip Cases
Compatible: iPod 5G, nano
Pacific Design Nano and 5G/Video Flip Cases
Pros: PDA-style flip cases with a convenient magnetic latch. Easy to find at local stores. Cases fit well and feel well-made, constructed of a convincing faux-leather polyurethane material.
Cons: Small holes for Dock Connector (5G/nano) and headphone (nano only) ports make usage with non-Apple accessories difficult. Belt loop doesn’t rotate and is nonremovable. iPods’ top corners are exposed at all times.
Pacific Design’s Flip Cases for iPod and iPod mini have long been fairly popular among consumers, largely due to their broad retail distribution network, and we really liked the affordable iPod mini version (iLounge rating: A-) in particular. The company has recently made available its Flip Cases for fifth-generation iPods and iPod nanos, and they’re nearly identical to their pricier 4G-sized predecessors (iLounge rating: B-). That is, except for their uniqueness due to their color-contrasting stripes and, to a lesser extent, their magnetic latches, they’re essentially little more than a fair iPod-specific offering of the otherwise generic PDA case, at nothing-special prices.
Each Pacific Design Flip case is based upon one solid color of polyurethane leather look-a-like material in your choice of “Carbon Black”, “Precious Pink”, “Big Sky Blue”, or “Rally Red”. The 5G/Video version is also available in “Mocha Brown.” In each case, the front flap is adorned with a sewed-on, off-center stripe of two contrasting colors, and closes with a magnetic latch. Inside, the case is lined with soft, black felt-like material which won’t scratch your iPod.
Both cases are generally well-made, with accurate stitching and adequately well-finished edges. We had no problems with the fit of the nano case, with all holes lining up properly with the iPod’s Click Wheel, screen, and ports. The 5G version of the case comes in only one size, but thanks to elastic material on its sides, fits either the 30GB or 60GB models equally well.
With their large front flaps precluding both the instant visibility of the screen and usage of the Click Wheel, nearly all PDA-style cases are inherently more cumbersome to use than other styles of cases; Pacific Design’s flip case is no exception. For this reason, two Ease of Use points are deducted, one for each usability concern. It should also be noted that the soft vinyl screen cover does not lay flat on the iPod’s surface, often resulting in odd distortion and glare.
Additionally, we found that the Flip Case’s Dock Connector ports were slightly too narrow to accept even Apple’s tiny Dock Connector plug without some minor effort, and won’t accommodate larger third party plugs at all. Similarly, the nano Flip Case’s headphone port is really only large enough to accept the smallest of headphone plugs - the 5G version’s was large enough for all of our third-party headphones. While we denote the nano’s six points in the scoring graphic above, note that the fifth-generation version scores a seven for this reason.
Pacific Design’s Flip Case is fairly pedestrian in design, and its package includes only the case itself - there aren’t any straps, films, or other pack-ins included. However, we give the Flip Case a single point for its slim, non-removable belt loop. At first glance, we were quite wary of this loop’s reliability, as it appeared to secure only by Velcro. However, we quickly found the attachment to be much more secure than we had initially thought - it’s also reinforced with a snap. We wouldn’t feel too nervous about using this on a belt, although we usually prefer even sturdier fixtures.
As PDA-style cases, the Pacific Design cases score a flip-case standard 7. Each model leaves the headphone and Dock Connector ports exposed, as well as a significant portion of the iPod’s top corners. The rest of the iPod’s key areas, including its screen, Hold switch, and Click Wheel, is covered at least part-time under the case’s front flap. The screen is additionally protected by a soft, transparent vinyl cover regardless of the flap’s position.
At $30 and $35, respectively, the 5G/video and nano Flip Cases represent a fairly average price for what we consider “standard”-class iPod cases. Available sans shipping costs at a wide range of American brick-and-mortar stores like Circuit City and CompUSA, they may offer a slightly better value than many of their online-only competitors, but with so many good (and similar) case options available at retail stores today, this is only a minor advantage.
As iPod screens have continued to improve and grow in importance, we’ve become increasingly critical of the utility of the PDA-style cases for photo- and video-ready iPod models. On a touch-screen PDA, what resides underneath the flap must be adequately protected when not in use, and yet must be able to easily become completely open for stylus use - the flap makes sense. However, on a device like the iPod where none of its surfaces need to remain completely open, we usually find ourselves encumbered by the flap, preferring a case with screen and Click Wheel allowing use of the iPod without manipulating the case.
Still, flap-style cases remain quite popular. For users that like its look, and don’t mind dealing with minor usability issues, the Pacific Design Flip Cases are adequate, if not ground-breaking in any way, and are both reasonably priced and easily found in local stores. In conclusion, there’s nothing either superb or awful about the Flip Cases, but their fairly mid-range scores in each of our categories only earn them our “Limited Recommendation.”
A Note From the Editors of iLounge: Though all products and services reviewed by iLounge are "final," many companies now make changes to their offerings after publication of our reviews, which may or may not be reflected above. This iLounge article provides more information on this practice, known as revving.