Review: RadTech Sleevz for iPod (4G/photo)
Pros: Thin, fully protective case for entire iPod save its top, giving access to all top-mounted iPod accessories.
Cons: Exposed top, no shock or drop protection, high price given functionality and competing products.
Last year, we reviewed RadTech’s PodSleevz for 3G iPods (iLounge rating: B) - soft fabric cases that protected most of an iPod while permitting access to its controls. Subsequently, RadTech released updated versions of the same case for 4G iPods and iPod photos under the name Sleevz for iPod ($20.95). The newer cases are highly similar to their predecessors, but with a redesigned front control panel that’s appropriate to the Click Wheels of the newer iPods. Our updated review for the new Sleevz is pretty much the same as last year’s review for their predecessors, but with a few additional details. The company is also selling MiniSleevz, which are made a bit differently for the iPod mini, and reviewed separately here.
As with the 3G version of PodSleevz, the fourth-generation and iPod photo Sleevz look good. Made from Optex fabric, a soft, microfiber material that won’t scratch your iPod, RadTech’s cases are offered in six mature colors - indigo, titanium, grape, ultra violet, red, and black. There are now separate versions tailored to different iPod thicknesses, and the ones we’ve tested fit their respective iPods quite well.
Under 1mm in thickness, Sleevz are intentionally designed to be more sheathe-like than case-like. Each has an open top so that you can slip an iPod in and use peripherals such as Griffin’s iTrip without problems. A perforated hole option on the bottom lets users decide whether or not to expose an iPod’s Dock Connector port while sleeved.
While it’s great to be able to choose between exposing the port or not, the perforation isn’t great, and simple cutting left the hole of one of our test cases looking ragged. Moreover, the finished hole was on the very small side - barely enough for even Apple’s own cables, let alone larger third-party ones. If you need to open the hole, use a good pair of scissors, or better yet a razor-sharp knife for better results, but we’d generally not advise this case for people who want to use the Dock Connector port.
Sleevz’ protection adds almost no thickness to the svelte iPod, making the already portable audio player near-guiltlessly pocketable - like, but better than the baggy black fabric pouches that iPods used to include. Unlike those pouches, Sleevz use transparent vinyl to provide access to iPods’ screens, and cover their controls with a thin, interference-free fabric surface. The screen and control carveouts in RadTech’s design contribute to the product’s respectable, professional appearance; alignment of the screen holes was even better than in the earlier versions we tested. We especially liked that the iPod’s Click Wheel, though covered, still responded perfectly to our button and scroll actions - slightly better than they do in most fully protective rubber cases. A tactile circular nub is used for the Menu button, while similarly tactile arrows are used for the track and play/pause buttons.
Sleevz would be absolute no-brainer recommendations for certain iPod owners if only one thing was different. We can’t fault the design for favoring thinness over shock resilience, but we don’t know that $20.95’s the right price for something so simple. We were concerned about the price last year, and it’s gone up a buck by then, not improving its value relative to other good options we’ve seen in the same price range.
For what they are, Sleevz are great inventions - thin, scratch-resistant cloth sheathes with full iPod button and screen access. Unless you want to remove their Dock Connector covers, they look professional, fit well, and work exactly as expected. They’re worthy of our B-level recommendation.