Review: Tunewear PRIE Sienna Series Cases for iPod nano
Pros: Quality leather cases with clear vinyl screen and Click Wheel protectors, each thin enough to properly suit the needs of any iPod nano owner. Each of the three cases is well-made, available in a caramel brown color, and attractive. Ambassador case is especially excellent, with detachable smart belt clip and metal hook options, plus very good protectiveness. Prices of all three cases have been lowered from earlier levels, making each more recommendable than before.
Cons: Less expensive TuneTag still seems pricey for such a simple design. TuneWallet and TuneTag are a little on the plain side visually.
In three capsule-sized reviews today, Tunewear’s PRIE Sienna series of iPod nano cases see ratings bumps from their predecessors: in addition to cosmetic changes, the company has lowered the price of all three cases to levels we find more appropriate, and so these cases have become more recommendable in the process. For additional photographs of these cases, please see our earlier combined review of their predecessors.
PRIE Ambassador Sienna
Of all of Tunewear’s Sienna series of cases, PRIE Ambassador Sienna is definitely the best: like its predecessor PRIE Ambassador (iLounge rating: B+), it’s a leather case that simultaneously protects almost all of the iPod nano and offers tremendous versatility in how it’s carried or worn. Recently, Tunewear has remedied its predecessor’s only serious flaw - an eye-popping $50 price - by reducing it to a more reasonable $40. A three-piece protective film cover called TuneFilm comes with each case.
Appearance: The biggest change from the original Ambassador to this one is coloration: Ambassador Sienna comes in a caramel brown color rather than the black and white versions of its predecessor, and now includes a gold-colored metal hook rather than a silver one. It’s sharper than the black and red review unit we received before, though we still think the all-black standard Ambassador is the coolest of the bunch. There are some other nice design touches, too: with dual clear vinyl windows on the nano’s top front and back, you can see nano’s screen and any engraving on its back. The same vinyl’s used for a Click Wheel cover, and looks good there, too.
Build Quality: We had no complaints about the build quality of the Sienna version of Ambassador. It looked and felt just as good as we’d hope for the dollar - a deluxe but affordable case for the iPod nano.
Ease of Use: Ambassador Sienna scores big for protecting so much of the iPod without significantly compromising access to its screen or controls with a front lid. The Click Wheel protector works well, but it’s worth noting that you’ll have to push a little to use the controls.
Special Features/Innovation: The Ambassador series stands out most in this category. A substantial, attractive, and easily detachable gold metal hook lets you attach it to your clothes or a bag, while a very smart, thin and easily detachable brown rear plastic belt clip can mount nano on your pants. What we loved about this design was that removing the extras left us with a thin, uncluttered case without belt clip nubs or other issues. It’s one of Tunewear’s smartest leather designs, ever.
Protectiveness and Value: Every inch of your iPod nano is covered in Ambassador except for two holes: one for the Hold switch at top, and one for the headphone port at bottom. Both holes are appropriately sized, though the Hold switch one is a bit generous. It’s not a perfect pocket case, but it’s very close. On pricing, Ambassador Sienna does well. Its leather doesn’t look or feel like top-of-the-line Vaja-quality stuff, but it’s not too far off, and for the price and given its features, we think it’s one of the best overall iPod nano cases we’ve seen - highly recommended. Kudos to Tunewear for improving on an already standout product.
By dropping TuneWallet’s price by $10 - enough to put it in direct competition with iPod nano wallets from Belkin (Folio, iLounge rating: B), Incase (Leather Wallet, iLounge rating: C-), and Marware (Billfold and Card Wallets, iLounge ratings: B+, B), what Tunewear has accomplished with TuneWallet Sienna is enough to make it worth its price. Though not the perfect iPod wallet, Tunewear has outdone most of its competitors in two ways: creating a smart iPod holder, and creating a usable wallet. Nano-covering TuneFilm is included as an option if you want to use it.
Appearance: In footprint, TuneWallet is identical to Incase’s Wallet - about 4” by 2.75”. Unlike Marware’s designs, it lacks external embellishments: the Sienna version of the case is caramel brown, rather plain from the outside, with little more than swaths of leather to show. But the inside shines - the nano looks very nice inside a leather sleeve, and the rest of the case shows matching leather and a fabric patch. Tunewear’s logo is embossed on the case’s inside right, and on a small tag at its top inner center.
Build Quality: As with TuneTag, we had no issues with TuneWallet’s build quality. It felt good and its stitching was without any apparent problems.
Ease of Use: By design, TuneWallet covers the front of your iPod at all time when it’s in your pocket. This prevents you from having access to the iPod’s screen and controls unless you open the case. If you buy this case, you’ll understand going in that it’s a limitation of the design.
Special Features/Innovation: This is another example of Tunewear at its design best. Incase erred by putting nano on the Wallet’s right side, creating a headphone port issue with nano’s bottom. Marware handled this more adroitly, but not ideally. Avoiding these issues, Tunewear puts nano on the left, then not only covers nano’s Dock Connector, but properly exposes only as much of the headphone port as is necessary. This was really good work. A fabric tab inside makes nano removal effortless, while a two-pocket design on the right actually lets you carry cash and a card or two in the TuneWallet. This is a real wallet, with a real iPod nano holder.
Protectiveness and Value: There are only two holes on TuneWallet Sienna: one for the top Hold switch and a small one for the headphone port. The top hole again makes this case less than ideal if you actually intend to use the case as a wallet with keys in your pocket, but most of your nano - including more of its bottom than with Incase’s design - is protected. There are vinyl covers on the nano’s screen and Wheel to protect it from whatever else may be in the wallet, too.
Previously, when TuneWallet sold for $40, we had to ask whether a somewhat smarter design was worth a $20 premium over the Incase Wallet, or $15 over Belkin’s Folio. Now the answer is easier - it is worth a $5-10 premium, for sure; it’s a better product, priced at a more reasonable level, and therefore more recommendable.
Tunewear’s PRIE TuneTag Sienna for iPod nano ($25) is the modestly less expensive follow-up to PRIE TuneTag (iLounge rating: B-), a highly similar case we previously reviewed at a $30 price point. What you get is a leather and vinyl iPod nano holder intended to dangle from a bag, purse or belt loop, as well as a film protector called TuneFilm, which comes in several pieces and provides front and/or back coverage for the nano, necessary only when it’s removed from the case. The Sienna version of TuneTag comes only in a caramel brown color, and uses gold-colored metal rather than the silver of its predecessor.
Appearance: Nappa leather is used to form a luggage tag-like enclosure around the nano’s body, with a thin vinyl front window that’s just large enough for nano’s screen and controls to be fully accessible. A smaller vinyl back window exposes the nano’s engravings, if any. As expected, TuneTag Sienna looks like a high-class luggage tag. If you like that, great; we thought it was fine.
Build Quality: Overall, we had no complaints about the way TuneTag felt or was made. It feels sturdy, and didn’t have any rough edges.
Ease of Use: As with Tunewear’s superior case PRIE Ambassador, you’ll need to press through the vinyl to access your controls, but that’s not too hard. Seeing the screen is easy with the clear vinyl protector - superior to covering the front of the nano with leather, as many luggage tags might have done.
Special Features/Innovation: Other than its unique appearence, which is a bit generic for our tastes, the only thing special about TuneTag Sienna is a thin leather bag strap that attaches to the case’s bottom for easy attachment to a bag. The strap can be adjusted with a silver clasp to one of three positions - adequate, not that impressive - or removed entirely from the case.
Protectiveness and Value: Holes at the case’s top and bottom are its only exposed points, but the bottom hole is a lot bigger than the one on Ambassador, using a thin central strip that exposes almost all of nano’s Dock Connector and headphone port. This could have been better, like Ambassador’s bottom. As with the other nano versions of PRIE Sienna cases, Tunewear has dropped the price of TuneTag Sienna - here by a slight $5 - preserving the design’s status as the lowest-priced PRIE in the series. Though we still don’t think it’s worthy of our strong recommendation, at $25, it’s a better value than before, and arguably a bit more appealing as a simple iPod nano holder. We continue to strongly prefer the admittedly more expensive PRIE Ambassador and Sienna cases, and would be less likely to pick TuneTag as a pocket case because of the mostly open bottom, but if you’re looking to make a fashion statement, consider it.