Vaja iVod nano
Pros: A top-of-the-line premium customized leather case for the iPod nano, with a clear integrated screen protector and a beautiful leather body. Available in 62 color combinations for no additional cost, giving you great personalization options; two belt clip options and a Click Wheel protector are available at extra cost. Each case includes a beautiful, gift-quality box.
Cons: Incompatible with oversized headphone plugs - an iVod first - and vertical alignment of the Click Wheel in the case’s hole is a little off-center. Top, bottom, and Click Wheel are open, though optional wheel protector is excellent.
In the premium iPod nano case category, there’s probably no product more anticipated than Vaja’s iVod nano ($55), a reduced-size version of the myriad iVod leather cases we have reviewed for full-sized iPods and minis in the past. There’s generally good news for fans of the series: of the Vaja cases we’ve tested for iPod nano, this is definitely the best-looking and most worthy of its premium price, though it’s not without a couple small and new issues.
As is the norm for iVod cases, absolutely premium leather is combined with several stand-out design touches: a contoured, puffed leather face that applies gentle curves to the edges of the nano’s front, screen and Click Wheel, a metal logo on the case’s bottom right corner, and a classy interior that’s embossed with the Vaja name. Each iVod comes in a new variant on Vaja’s recent white, gift-quality packaging, which we photographed for an earlier review, only this time minus the top integrated color wheel. It’s still beautiful.
By now, the general pros and cons of the iVod design are well-established, and iVod nano doesn’t really change them: the case protects your iPod’s back and half of its sides with one hard-reinforced color of leather, and most of its face and the other half of its sides with another, leaving holes for the nano’s screen and Click Wheel. For the base price, you can choose from 30 colors with matching front and back halves, or go with 32 different two-color combinations. In a phrase, the cases are close to visually stunning, and if chosen in the right colors, essentially guaranteed to make a good first impression on their recipients.
Screen coverage is included with every case - Vaja’s hard integrated protector is mildly but not severely distorting, like most of the nano protectors we’ve seen - yet Click Wheel protection isn’t included; you still need to pay $6 extra for a vellum-like plastic protector that we consider to be one of the best we’ve seen. There’s also the option to add a large plastic belt clip ($4) or a smaller, lower profile metal Rivet belt clip ($20), the latter of which is better suited to nano’s size, and either name engraving ($10) or an embossed logo ($30). Our review case came without a belt clip, and like all Vaja cases had the company’s name engraved nicely but lightly in the lower back. The photograph below illustrates how invisible it is on certain angles.
Beyond a couple of established iVod caveats - the case’s entire top is open, as is much of its bottom - a couple of new issues affect the iPod nano version. First, the bottom headphone port isn’t large enough to accommodate oversized headphones, due as much to a lack of circular tailoring around the port as the location of the nano. This is the first iVod case to have such a problem, and hopefully the last. Rather than sinking all the way to the case’s bottom, with its ports flush with iVod’s surface, the nano sits a bit high inside. In fact, it’s high enough that the nano’s Click Wheel doesn’t precisely center vertically in the case’s front Click Wheel hole - you can use the entire Wheel, but there’s a little more of the iPod’s face exposed at its bottom than its top.
Looking back at Vaja’s pricing for iVod for iPod mini, we’re happy to see that the company hasn’t gone crazy and boosted prices across the board for such a small case: though the entry price is now $55 rather than $50, you now get 62 color options rather than the one previously available at that low price, rather than having to pay $70 for any non-black color scheme. That’s a fair trade-off by us, though you’ll almost certainly want to add a Wheel protector - a feature we wish was standard on all iVods, and wasn’t available at all in the original mini model when we reviewed it.
The only reason iVod nano rates lower than its predecessor is on the issues identified above. If you don’t use oversized headphones, and don’t mind the slight vertical misalignment of the nano’s Click Wheel, this is as nice of a leather case for the iPod nano as you’ll find anywhere. It’s the rare iPod accessory that largely justifies its price premium over similar products.