Company: Pods Plus
Model: Pods Plus Leather Flipcase
Compatible: iPod 4g, photo
Pods Plus Leather Flipcase
Pros: A quality leather PDA-style case, available in two colors, made from good leather.
Cons: Doesn’t protect iPod’s corners when closed; included screen protectors aren’t great on any iPod but are especially distracting on the iPod photo; decision to mount iPod upside down and use Velcro belt loop rather than rear belt clip creates opening and closing oddities with headphones.
Thus far, the cases we’ve received from Pods Plus have been a bit of a letdown: its leather iPod shuffle cases (iLounge rating: C+) looked nice but weren’t especially protective, while its silicone rubber cases (iLounge rating: C-) looked okay but proved surprisingly easy to tear. Now the company has delivered its Leather Flipcases for Fourth Generation iPods and iPod Photos ($24.99), mostly me-too PDA-style cases that open and close with large flaps.
The Flipcase is available in two separate colors - white and black - and we received the black iPod photo version in a nice-looking metallic gray and black box for review. Soft black fabric is used on the case’s inside iPod-touching surfaces to protect the iPod against internal scratches, while pretty good leather is used on the entire outside and exterior face of the iPod. Surprisingly, padding is used on the case’s rear, but not on its front.
Pods Plus’ major twist is that your iPod is inserted upside down in the interior holster, and the case’s front flap opens from the bottom rather than the top to expose the controls and screen. Unlike some other cases, there’s no way to access the iPod’s Dock Connector port unless you fully open the Flipcase, as the port is totally protected when the case is shut; however, the Flipcase leaves all of the iPod’s corners exposed at all times.
There are two other small twists in the Flipcase’s design: a metal magnetic clasp at the rear top center of the case to hold it closed, replacing the traditional snap found on the rear bottom center of most PDA-style designs, and a velcro loop rather than a belt clip on the case’s front. Assuming that you’re wearing a belt that the loop can attach to, you can flip the case open to see your iPod hanging upside down - a good position for viewing and use while you’re standing or sitting, but impractical in that the case surrounds the headphone port with a V-shaped piece of leather. To open the case for control and screen access, you need to displace the V-shaped strap, and simultaneously unplug or displace your headphone cord. It’s not an especially smart design - if you plan to use your iPod when it’s inside.
In addition to the case, the box contained an oversized thin fabric bag similar to the ones Apple used to include with its premium full-sized iPods, as well as a packet containing a sealed moist cloth and two adhesive screen protectors. Pods Plus instructs you to use the cloth to clean your iPod’s screen, then put a screen protector on for protection. It’s a cheaper alternative than integrating a protector into the case, but not unappreciated in concept: a full-time iPod protector would be fine if it was good.
This one isn’t - at least, for iPod photos. The plastic protector turns the iPod photo’s screen into an array of colored speckles whenever the backlight’s on, but looks okay if the backlight’s off and you’re not tilting the screen towards a glaring light. On a black-and-white iPod, the backlighting isn’t a problem, but the non-backlit screen glares on the wrong angle. We’ve seen much better screen protectors; thankfully, this guard isn’t necessary for use with the flip-closed case, and we wouldn’t bother.
Overall, the Leather Flipcase looks decent, protects your iPod fairly well, and at $24.99 won’t kill your wallet. That said, if we were shopping for PDA-style iPod cases - which we generally wouldn’t - we’d sooner consider Marware’s leather C.E.O. Classic (iLounge rating: A-), or ballistic nylon TrailVue (iLounge rating: A-), say nothing of Teski’s less expensive Executive Leather Case (iLounge rating: B), each of which executes the same general concept without the odd wrinkles. The Leather Flipcase isn’t a bad case, but it’s not one we’d recommend given other options.