Company: Paul Frank Industries
Model: Paul Frank MP3 Player Covere
Compatible: iPod 3G, 4G/color 4G/photo
Paul Frank iPod Cases
Pros: Cartoon-themed PDA-style art cases feature the illustrations of Paul Frank, plus rear belt clip.
Cons: Design feels half-baked, especially on the bare interior; headphone port isn’t aligned properly for thicker iPods, some touches (vinyl on belt clip, elastic inside) feel cheap.
There are iPod accessories we love, and accessories that we want to love but can’t. Paul Frank’s new iPod cases ($22.00) regrettably fall into the latter category. iLounge’s editors - one in particular - are fans of the cartoony art of Paul Frank, most notably the character Julius the Monkey, and have waited quite some time to find iPod cases featuring his visages.
Now there are a number of PDA-style, flip-open cases - one with Julius, one with Scurvy (the skull and crossbones), and one called Spicoli - Rollin With the Homies, amongst other available patterns. All of the cases feature leather exteriors, simple vinyl-covered metal belt clips, and Velcro bottom flaps that seal closed on the case’s rear. A Paul Frank logo is on the flap, while a hole at the case’s top is cut with intentionally cartoony edges to accommodate headphones.
The major feature of all of these cases is their front illustrations - if you like them, you might consider these cases worthwhile. As single panels of art, they’re cute and detailed - pretty much exactly what fans of Paul Frank’s art would expect - the rare example of a smart justification for the continued use of the outmoded PDA-style case design. Matching stitched leather sides cover most of your iPod, except for its top corners, when the case is open or closed.
However, to call these cases simplistic on the inside would be an understatement: besides a soft anti-scratch lining and a piece of elastic to hold your iPod in place, there’s not much else going on in any of them. Paul Frank includes a business card-sized pocket on the inside front flap, but no front protection for the iPod. This appears to have been done in order to accommodate older, third-generation iPods, though a partially vinyl interior would have achieved much the same effect with more protection. Instead, a black elastic strap fits awkwardly on the bottom of your iPod’s screen rather than in the space between the screen and Click Wheel. On thicker iPods - 40 and 60GB models - the headphone hole also requires you to slightly open the case’s top to get a proper fit. It works fine with thinner iPods, though.
Though these cases look pretty good from the outside, they’re not as well thought out as most other PDA-style iPod cases we’ve seen - classically underengineered designs that trade more on their cosmetic appeal than performance. The cheap feeling vinyl-covered belt clip similarly feels like more of an afterthought than a proper design, one last little touch that left us unimpressed.
Though rating these cases was tough, we ultimately chose our B- limited recommendation because fans of Paul Frank’s art - particularly younger ones - might be willing to live with the not-so-great design touches. As iPod cases go, there are much better designs out there, but if you want a way to carry Julius and friends in your pocket with your iPod, these may be the only ways you can do it.