Review: Vaja iVod video SP for 5G iPods | iLounge

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B+Recommended

Company: Vaja

Website: www.vajachoice.com

Model: iVod video SP

Price: $90 (+ extras/shipping)

Compatible: iPod 5G

Vaja iVod video SP for 5G iPods

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By Jeremy Horwitz

Editor-in-Chief, iLounge
Published: Monday, May 29, 2006
Category: Cases - iPods + Accessories, iPod 5G (with Video)

Pros: An impressively customizable premium leather case, offering a hybrid of hard and traditional leather cases with excellent fit and finish, multiple sturdy belt clip options, and an option for laser-engraved personalization. Features full screen and Click Wheel protection for the price, plus user’s choice of two colors - one for case’s body, one for racing stripe.

Cons: Lacks protection for top and part of bottom; $90 price tag is high, even by handmade standards, and can become even more expensive, with additional costs for belt clip options.

We’ve said it many times now, but Vaja’s iVod cases remain amongst our favorite leather cases for the iPod, offering a unique way of melding the elegance of high quality leather with the rigidity and protection of a hard case, plus offering a high level of customization and craftsmanship. Over time, Vaja has continued to design even more deluxe and expensive versions of the iVod, including the Jamaican-colored Rasta, the Swarovski crystal-studded Crystal, the vinyl album-capped DJ, and now the sporty striped iVod video SP ($90). For the price, SP cases include more protection than the standard iVod - screen and Click Wheel covers are included if you want them - and also allow you to choose two different colors, one for the majority of the case’s body, and one for a racing stripe that runs down the center of the case, interrupted by screen and controls. It’s a classy design, made fun by your ability to choose from over 30 colors for the case and the stripe.

Every iVod we’ve ever seen has been at the top of the scale in fit, finish, and resilience: the iVod SP is no different. High quality Argentinean leather is tightly and properly wrapped around its hard inner shell, and with impeccable precision - no seam or stitch is visible inside or out. The central racing stripe is part of the same piece of leather, rather than cut separately, which looks great. And each case is sized specifically for its intended iPod (one for 30GB, one for 60GB), fitting snugly and securely, with all access areas lining up perfectly. In addition, we and many of our readers have found the cases to be resilient over long-term ownership, neither falling apart nor fading over time. Still, scratching of the case remains a legitimate concern.

We award our “ease of use” grades objectively on the number of iPod access areas which remain usable while the case is on, putting protectiveness aside. In this regard, the Vaja iVod scores a 10, providing full access to the iPod’s screen, Click Wheel, Hold switch, Dock Connector, and headphone port. Even with the semi-opaque Click Wheel protector installed, as is shown above, iPod control remains easy, with a matte-finished surface that feels good to the touch.

The entire concept of Vaja’s iVod cases is centered around their high-quality, customizable, hand-crafted construction, and on the basis of this extremely well-executed central feature, we award it the full 5 “handmade” points our system allows. The company pioneered the “puffy” leather hard case style, and now augments that distinctive body design with myriad color choices - two different choices for this case alone. Engraving, however, is still a separate option with separate fees.

On the other hand, iVod 5G rates zero points for pack-ins. The company has become very “add-on” oriented, over time requiring buyers to purchase everything from belt clips to Click Wheel protectors. Fairly recent to Vaja’s offerings is their “Rivet Clip” system ($20 extra), which offers the better rigidity of a metal belt clip, in addition to several new mounting options such as a fabric clip, belt “hook,” or adhesive mount. The company’s standard “Ultra Clip” is $6 extra, and a very sturdy (though thick) rotating plastic belt clip that only releases the case at an angle of 90 degrees - a good safety feature should the button mechanism fail.

The iVod SP design covers the iPod’s entire front and back surfaces, exposing only the iPod’s top corners and top surface - you can opt out of screen or Click Wheel protection, but they are included for the price if you want them. It’s noteworthy that the iVod SP’s tightness merits a warning from Vaja: “this case does not allow the use of any protective shield previously applied to the device,” so don’t expect to use outside films.

Protection remains the single biggest area Vaja should work on - at this price level, people are expecting more than just a simple leather shell for their money, and want to have their iPods covered. While including screen and Click Wheel protection is great, the price is so high for iVod SP that detachable top and bottom coverage would be reasonable to expect for the dollar.

The value of Vaja’s iVod cases is difficult to measure: on one hand, they’re very distinctive visually, and unmatched by other leather cases we’ve seen, putting Apple’s comparable iPod Leather Cases to shame - there is no way to get a case exactly like this without paying this price for it. On the other hand, $90 is almost as high as we’ve seen for any non-designer leather case for the iPod, and we’ve found many lower-priced cases that offer superior protection. In the context of handmade premium cases, the iVod isn’t insanely expensive, but it’s pricey enough to cause second thoughts before purchase. As a gift for someone else, we think it’s one of the best iPod accessories we’ve seen, but whether you’ll be willing to buy it for yourself will depend on how much of a treat you think you deserve. Our feeling is that amongst all of Vaja’s current iVods, since all of them have become expensive, we’d lean most heavily towards this one on looks if you’re not concerned about the cash outlay.

A Note From the Editors of iLounge: Though all products and services reviewed by iLounge are "final," many companies now make changes to their offerings after publication of our reviews, which may or may not be reflected above. This iLounge article provides more information on this practice, known as revving.

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Editors' Note: iLounge only reviews products in "final" form, but many companies now change their offerings - sometimes several times - after our reviews have been published. This iLounge article provides more information on this practice, known as revving.

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