Review: Tunewear PRIE Sienna Series Cases for 5G iPod
Pros: Nappa leather cases sold in caramel brown tones, one with a gold-colored detachable hook and brown belt clip, with cases and attachments well made and attractively designed. Ambassador case’s excellent carabiner clip and solid belt clip are both detachable options, and its rear see-through engraving window is a unique feature; Wallet’s four card or cash compartments make it a viable alternative to a real wallet for some users.
Cons: Included TuneFilm protectors are unimpressive replacements for the integrated screen and Wheel protectors found in earlier nano versions of these cases, detracting from looks of iPods inside in a way not befitting their price tags; nano version of TuneFilm was oddly included with 5G TuneWallet. Both cases expose portions of iPod’s top and bottom unnecessarily.
Tunewear’s new Sienna series PRIE TuneWallet and Ambassador cases for iPod 5G are modestly updated remakes of the company’s previously released and reviewed products of the same names, now offered in “rich caramel” Nappa leather rather than the white and black leathers we’ve previously tested. Golden stitching is used instead of the white, black, or red thread from the prior cases. Our updated review below is based heavily on our prior reviews of these cases, but with additional details and distinctions where appropriate. For more comprehensive photographs and comparative details, please see our earlier reviews.
PRIE Ambassador Sienna
Like its predecessor PRIE Ambassador, Tunewear’s PRIE Ambassador Sienna ($50) is a multifunction leather case designed to be worn on a belt or bag. It covers the majority of your fifth-generation iPod’s back, sides, top, and bottom in precision-stiched nappa leather, with holes cut out for the iPod’s screen, Click Wheel, Hold switch, headphone port, and Dock Connector port. There’s also a clear plastic window on the case’s back to show off any engraving on your iPod - a distinctive feature of these cases - and a separate included set of TuneFilm clear protectors that cover your iPod’s face and part of its back. The Sienna series is available in only one color - a rich caramel brown - though Ambassador also includes a second nice touch, a gold-colored metal hook that looks even better than the silver hook included with the original black and white Ambassador cases.
First, the good: as with its predecessors for iPod and nano, the company’s leather and stitching are both solid, and the interior lining of the case is soft and suede-like - no complaints here. Ambassador also has one of the best carabiner-style hooks we’ve ever seen on an iPod case, a thick, durable metal piece that’s easy to attach and detach from the leather body. We also continue to like the company’s detachable rear belt clip, which is low profile, pretty strong, and uses a smart prong-like mechanism to attach and detach from the case; here, it’s brown rather than black. The only negative aspect of the belt clip’s design is orientation-related: it mounts your iPod horizontally rather than vertically, less than ideal for the video-equipped iPod, but the carabiner makes up for this. It holds the iPod upside down, but a swiveling mechanism in the hook lets you easily turn the iPod upright while it’s dangling. With Ambassador, you have the choice.
We’re not big fans of Tunewear’s TuneFilm protectors, which are regrettably necessary in the 5G version of this case - not so in the nano one, which uses integrated clear front covers. While Tunewear has improved the covers a bit from the ragged ones we saw in our earlier reviews, they still tend to let air bubbles in, less attractive than many of the other clear film solutions we’ve seen. When the iPod’s inside the case, you won’t notice this at all for the screen, but the Click Wheel protector is another story. It looks “wet�? at all times, especially because it uses a separate cut-out guard for the center Action button. Ambassador would have been better off just keeping the integrated screen and Click Wheel protectors found in the iPod nano version - they looked a lot better than these.
As noted above, Ambassador Sienna exposes the 5G’s Dock Connector port, Hold switch, and headphone port, the latter in our view the only necessary hole of the bunch. Given that the case has a snap-closed bottom that is easy to pop open, there was really no need to leave a hole for the Dock Connector - Tunewear didn’t do this on the iPod nano version, and we liked that. Similarly, we continue to prefer designs with closed Hold switches, but some may like this aspect of the design.
When we reviewed the first PRIE Ambassador for iPod nano, we thought that it was a great case design in virtually every way save price. The larger Ambassador for the 5G iPod is a better value, but because of the so-so TuneFilm and lack of integrated protection for the screen, Click Wheel, and Dock Protector, it’s not as good of a case, either. Ambassador Sienna is the same story, only with different coloration. It is still a recommendable case overall, but we wish it had better protection, and would expect it for the price.
PRIE TuneWallet Sienna
Tunewear’s PRIE TuneWallet Sienna 5G ($40) is an updated version of the PRIE TuneWallet previously reviewed on iLounge (iLounge rating: B): your 5G is mounted on the left side of a horizontal wallet, with credit card compartments on the right side. The major differences from before are noticeable, but minor: Tunewear has updated the leather to a caramel brown color rather than the black and white earlier versions. There are still a total of four compartments - three card sleeves layered on top of each other, and one cash pocket underneath all of them. The case’s interior is all leather, and there are holes for the screen, Click Wheel, Dock Connector, Hold switch and headphone port. When closed, TuneWallet covers all but the iPod’s top and bottom, and TuneFilm front and back protectors are supposed to be included as an option for those who want to use it. Oddly, our 5G TuneWallet shipped with iPod nano TuneFilm, which we suspect was an anomaly but aren’t quite sure about.
We generally liked TuneWallet’s look and feel: it features the same precision stitching and good leather quality we’ve come to expect from Tunewear. Especially given the limited number of wallet-style cases for the fifth-generation iPod at the moment, this one’s a good option - better on overall quality and design for the dollar than iPodstreet’s comparably priced Bifold Leather Encased (iLounge rating: B-).
The only distinctions from other wallet-style cases we’ve tested for 4G and 5G iPods are these: there’s no padding in the leather here, and no clasp to hold the case closed, an interesting omission given that Tunewear engineered a nice internal fabric loop that makes it super easy to remove the iPod inside. Minus a magnet or other clasp, the case flops open unless the iPod-heavy side is rested on top of the card compartment, an issue which won’t mean as much to users of traditionally clasp-free men’s wallets as users of women’s. All users will be affected by the open top and bottom ports, however, which are on the generous side.
Assuming that you receive the proper version of TuneFilm with your TuneWallet, our previous comments about 5G TuneFilm will apply equally here: it’s not great, but not awful. We wish it wasn’t necessary, and in fact, there mightn’t have been a need for any film if the wallet could be trusted to stay closed with a latch. Since that’s not the case here, the Film’s essentially required. You can avoid using it if you want, because of TuneWallet’s front flap, and similarly because of the flap, you won’t see it as much if you do use it.
As with Ambassador Sienna 5G, PRIE TuneWallet Sienna for the 5G iPod is a better value than the nano version, and though it has some small issues, it’s recommendable while leaving a bit of room for improvement. It’s a solid wallet if you like the idea of putting iPod and currency in the same place.