Review: PDair Sleeve and Flip Type Leather Cases for iPod nano 3G
Having previously looked at the first collection of cases for the third-generation iPod nano (with video), today we're covering 11 additional options with brief capsule reviews. Five new cases - four leather, one metal - are from a company called PDair, one is leather from Noreve, one is neoprene from Marware, and four alternate between leather, neoprene, and rubber from Incase. Not surprisingly, there are a number of similarities between certain groups of these cases, so we're bundlng the like cases together for comparison, and looking at the other ones individually. All four of the PDair cases below received our general (flat B) recommendation.
Sleeve Type Cases: Versions 1, 2, and 3
Five new nano cases—Incase’s Leather Sleeve ($30) and Neoprene Sleeve ($25), and PDair’s $25 Sleeve Type Leather Case, Sleeve Type ver. 2, and Sleeve Type ver. 3—are especially similar to one another. Each of these cases is available in a standard black color, with the PDair cases also sold in brown, aqua, pink, red, or white, and the Incase Neoprene Sleeve available also in pink, as it’s shown here. They all cover the nano’s screen with clear plastic, all of its back and most of the rest of its face with leather or neoprene, and feature some sort of way to attach the case to your clothes. All of them expose the nano’s Click Wheel, rather than including film or other protection for that part. Their wearable attachments are their biggest differentiators, and the reason for PDair’s varied “ver. 2” and “ver. 3” names.
Both of Incase’s Sleeves and PDair’s Sleeve Type Leather Case ver. 3 have non-detachable belt clips on their backs, in each case upside down so that the nano’s headphone port and screen are facing upwards, rather than downwards from your waist. The standard Sleeve Type comes with a detachable generic silver metal and plastic lanyard necklace, while Sleeve Type ver. 2 has a non-detachable but decently built spring-loaded metal carabiner clip. All three of PDair’s Sleeve Type cases fully expose the nano’s bottom, and almost all of its top save for two small strips of leather, while also exposing all four of its side corners, and a hint of metal on the bottom of its face. By comparison, Incase’s Sleeves use Velcro tabs to mostly cover the Dock Connector, fully cover nano’s sides and bottom face metal, and vary in their coverage of the top. Incase’s Leather Sleeve covers the middle third of nano’s top, while Neoprene Sleeve covers the entire top, making it the most protective of the bunch.
Of the group, both of Incase’s Sleeves are nicer looking than all of PDair’s. Additional protection aside, Incase double-stitches with higher-contrast thread than PDair’s, and both the front and back of each Incase case show more design work and attention to detail. Similarly, but less importantly, the interior of the Incase Leather Sleeve is a step up from the others, using the company’s recent topographical map-style embossed fabric, while the PDair designs just use plain leather, and the Neoprene Sleeve uses Incase-logo branded neoprene.
What you get with both of the Incase Sleeves is a case that looks, feels, and protects better than the PDair designs, albeit at a higher price, and without as many color or attachment options: you’ll pay $30 for the Incase Leather Sleeve versus $25 for any of the PDairs or the Neoprene Sleeve. Based on the many cases we’ve tested in the past, our feeling is that each of these cases is a bit overpriced for what you get, but you’re more likely to be satisfied with the looks and quality of the Incase designs for the dollar than PDair’s. Additional protection and lower pricing would have helped the Sleeve Type Leather Cases rate higher in our view.
Two of the leather cases, PDair’s Flip Type Leather Case ($25) and Noreve’s Tradition Leather Case ($40), are based on the same general idea: cover the new iPod nano in leather, using a bottom-opening flap to cover its face, Dock Connector, and Hold switch part time. Both cases use magnetic clasps to hold the flaps closed, and though they offer similar levels of protection—each one exposes nano’s headphone port and corners, nothing else— they vary considerably in execution: Flip Type uses 6 colors of padded but still inexpensive-feeling leather to look a hint classier than its Sleeve Type brothers, while Tradition uses considerably better leather, either glossy or in suede (Passion Vintage shown here) with 15 different color choices.
The companies’ pricing reflects the differences in leather, as well as the differences in design: Noreve’s solution is cleaner inside and out, with handsome stitching, a subtle black fabric interior, hidden magnets, and an iPod nano holder that doesn’t cover the screen or Click Wheel because it doesn’t need to—the flap’s there. If anything’s wrong with Tradition, it’s that the nano is a little difficult to remove from the case thanks to the almost complete leather top cover it has. By comparison, PDair’s stitching is a little uneven, with a cheaper-looking all leather interior, a large tab for its magnet clasp, and a nano holder that’s basically the same as the company’s Sleeve Type cases, complete with unnecessary screen coverage. The nano’s easier to remove, because the large magnet-laden tap covers a hole in the leather top surface, and the hole lets you push the nano out rather than putting pressure on its face or screen as is necessary with the Tradition design.
Noreve and PDair also use different belt clips: Noreve includes a nice metal ratcheting nub and plastic clip, attached with a screwdriver, while PDair’s nub uses a plastic screw and the clip hangs loosely, enabling the nano to hang only rightside up, with its headphone plug facing down, from your belt. Open each case and the nano turns upside down for easier screen and control access.
We’re not big fans of flip-style cases for any video-ready iPod, as front flaps add just one more inconvenience to accessing the iPods’ increasingly necessary screens and controls, but if you like this sort of design, these are both good, rather than great options for their respective prices. We consider Noreve’s Tradition the superior option of the two: it’s a very nice case if you’re looking for class and willing to pay a little more for it. PDair’s isn’t quite as special, but will do just fine if you’re more budget-conscious and don’t mind small design touches that show it.