Model: iVolution Leather Suit
Price: $70 (+ extras/shipping)
Compatible: iPod 5G
Vaja iVolution Leather Suit for Apple iPod Video
Pros: High-quality leather is used in a new, substantially iPod-covering design, setting the latest iVolution case apart from its iVod predecessors. Comes in your choice of forty available colors; customization options are available.
Cons: Case has a tendency to easily show minor scratches. Bulky leather snap is somewhat cumbersome, detracts from case’s good looks.
As one of the leading designers of high-quality iPod leather cases, Vaja some time ago created the iVod/iVolution series, a puffed leather case design that looked great but offered less than complete iPod protection. The company’s new iVolution Leather Suit ($70+) adds protection to the older cases, but compromises a bit on style in the process: it uses a two-part design held together with a leather top hinge and a somewhat bulky snap. It is currently available for the fifth-generation iPod, and available in separate sizes for the 30GB iPod, and 60/80GB iPods, each with forty color choices. Handmade with caterina leather, the Leather Suit is very soft to the touch with a matte finish.
As with other Vaja products, Leather Suit is made of high-quality leather, both inside and out, and the attention to detail in stitching and fabric is very impressive. After some testing, we noticed that the soft leather does show minor scratches and/or indentations, and a small nick appeared in the leather inside the top of the case, invisible when the case was closed; for these issues together, we deducted one point. Vaja does note on their website that the case should be handled with care, especially lighter colors, a factor you’ll have to take into account before making a purchase.
Leather Suit did pretty well in the Ease of Use category. The Hold switch is not accessible unless the case is snapped open, and even then, it’s partially obscured: depending on your fingernails, full access may require some users to completely remove the iPod from the case. Additionally, while the headphone port is easily accessible and can accommodate larger plugs, we were disappointed to find that the Dock Connector opening was one of those half-conceived small ones, compared to Vaja’s prior iVod cases - it only accommodates Apple cables, not other Dock Connector accessories like Belkin’s TuneFM or Griffin’s iTrip, and we really wish that companies would either made these holes big enough to be universally useful or close them up entirely.
We gave Leather Suit a total of three points for Special Features, only one of which was for the case’s new design. Although puffed leather cases have been around for some time, Vaja has broken the mold with an innovative hinged two-part design and snap closure, making this case distinct from other, similar cases that we have reviewed. However, the new design is better in concept than execution, adding bulk to the iPod’s back and not looking quite as sleek as the company’s earlier iVod cases; something’s just missing. On a more positive note, Leather Suit is available in forty colors, any one of which is available for the standard asking price of $70, and we added two points for this. But as always with Vaja products, customization and add-ons are extra. Belt clips are available from $4 - $20, as well as text ($10) and graphic ($30) personalization, specified when you place your order.
However interesting a case might be visually, we always consider overall protectiveness important. Rather than including an integrated screen or Click Wheel protector, as it has done with past iVod cases to nice visual effect, Vaja now includes a set of two completely clear Lexan plastic protectors: one fills in both holes on the case’s front and provides both screen and Click Wheel protection, while the other covers only the iPod’s screen. You peel off the translucent label and attach the protector to your iPod, a design that we didn’t like as much as the prior integrated protectors, but still achieves the same level of protection. When used with the full protector, iVolution completely covers the 5G iPod with the exception of the headphone port and Dock Connector, leading to a raw score of 7 for protectiveness, with an added 1 point for leather protection. Note that some reinforced card stock inside the Leather Suit’s shell provides thicker and stronger protection than a standard, entirely soft leather case.
Vaja’s iVolution Leather Suit offers custom color choices and generally high-quality hand-made craftsmanship which somewhat offset the premium $70 price, however, we were on the fence about the look of this particular design - it wasn’t quite up to Vaja’s past standards. Even though several of iLounge’s editors use Vaja cases with our own personal iPods, we think that users might find the bulky design of this model’s snap closure and hinge system somewhat cumbersome and visually distracting. If you can get over the case’s looks, you’ll find it more protective than a comparably priced standard iVod case, but of course, less customizable, simpler leather cases can be had for less.
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.