Review: Pacific Design Pouch
Company: Pacific Design
Model: iPod Pouches
Price: $20 - $26
Compatible: iPod 3G, 4G
Pros: iPod protective fabric cases with screen and control access.
Cons: Fair amounts of iPod are exposed when inside; holes are imprecisely cut; cases are made from material that’s neither especially attractive or iPod flattering.
Relatively new iPod case manufacturer Pacific Design now has full-sized and mini iPods covered. While we really liked the company’s iPod Mini Flip Case – an attractively designed PDA-style case for the iPod we recently reviewed – its iPod Pouches ($24.99) for 3G and 4G iPods didn’t give us as much to get excited about.
The iPod Pouches are stitched microfiber iPod holsters that use hard-reinforced fronts and backs with soft, flexible sides and bottoms. Each Pouch has a clear medium-strength PVC front that shows off the iPod’s screen, and while the 3G version predictably leaves holes for all of the iPod’s buttons and Wheel, the 4G version features only a single hole for the Click Wheel. A hole is cut and stitched around the iPod’s bottom Dock Connector port, and the entire top of the case is left open, with the left and right corner sides of the iPod also exposed to the elements. Simple black plastic is used for both a non-detachable back belt clip nub and a detachable belt clip, both of which are adequate but nothing special. Thin velvet polyester on the inside gives your iPod fair internal anti-scratch protection.
Pacific Design’s holes aren’t the Pouches’ best selling point. The front holes are cut more precisely on the 3G version than on the 4G version, awkwardly exposing part of the face of a 20 or 40GB iPod when inserted, and the Dock Connector hole at the bottom doesn’t like up properly when used with thinner (10/15/20GB) iPods. A common problem with one-size-fits-all cases, this alignment issue is a fair bit more noticeable than the ones we’ve seen in some other products, and while unprofessional is not necessarily terrible.
The Pouches do fit different thicknesses of iPods fairly well. Pacific Design’s fourth-generation case includes thin slices of elastic on its sides in addition to the microfiber material, permitting an easier stretch to accommodate whatever you stick inside, while the 3G version omits the elastic. (A fabric Pacific Design logo tag appears on the 4G cases next to the elastic, but not on the 3G cases.) As a result, thicker iPods are a tight fit in the 3G case, and far harder to remove. Cases properly sized to the two different iPod thicknesses per generation would have been a wiser design move.
As a final note, that Pacific Design hasn’t used leather is quickly apparent: the cases’ soft edges bend like fabric and don’t look quite as expensive or impressive. Yes, the Pouches are available in multiple colors - Titanium Grey Metallic, Pretty Pink Metallic, and Super Silver Metallic, the latter only for 4G iPods. But “metallic�? mightn’t be the best word for them, though, as except under very specific lighting conditions they really give off no shine or metal luster, and look mostly identical to standard leather or fabric from typical viewing distances. Titanium Grey in particular wasn’t what we were expecting: a dull dark color with lighter stitching.
The iPod Pouches aren’t super protective, attractive, or well-tended to around their edges: they’re inexpensive cases, and look the part. Pacific Design knows how to do a lot better, and we’re looking forward to seeing that from them in the future.
Jeremy Horwitz is Editor-in-Chief of iLounge.