Review: XtremeMac Deluxe (Original)
Pros: A well-designed case that offers accessibility on the go, a cover flap for protection, and lots of optional mounts for your belt, car and desk - all at a great price.
Cons: The felt-like material on the inside of the case can create loose fuzz, but in reality this is only a minor inconvenience.
After spending months looking for the perfect way to transport and protect my favorite mp3 player, I’ve finally found it: the XtremeMac Deluxe iPod Case. It incorporates all features you could possibly want in a case - protection, ease-of-use, and even a solution for using it in your car - all at one of the most reasonable prices on the market.
XtremeMac’s Essentials bundle includes their deluxe case; a clip-on earphone pouch; mounts for your car, desk and belt; a neck lanyard; and a charger for your car’s cigarette lighter. At $50, the kit might be too rich for some people’s blood, so XtremeMac offers two other kits: the Mobility bundle ($40), with all the features of the Essentials minus the car adapter, and the Hip Tunes kit ($30), including the case, earphone pouch, and clip-on belt clip. You can even purchase the case separately (without the belt clip) for $20.
Through the end of February, the company is offering extended Macworld discounts with promotional code MWSF02, making the deals even sweeter.
The iPod case itself uses the single best design to date - one on par with Waterfield Design’s similar Sooper Dooper iPod Case, but at about half the price. The player slides into a pouch with a thin plastic face that cover the iPod’s entire surface except for the scroll wheel and buttons. The firm leather that makes up the bottom and back of the base also has a cover that folds over to protect your iPod when it’s in your backpack or briefcase.
The player fits snugly inside the case. Its sides are made of elastic material that ensures a tight fit, but one with enough flexibility that you can easily take the device out and put it back in at will. The case is available in eight leather colors, four suede, two “designer” covers, and even a photo case that lets you slide in a picture, so you can protect your device with almost as much style as it already has.
Depending on which bundle you choose, the other accessories add to an already solid package. The case has a post on the back that allows you to easily change between the belt clip, car mount and lanyard. Simply turn it to a 90-degree angle and lift to switch which one you’re using.
The clip-on earphone pouch is also worth noting. It perfectly fits the earphones included with the iPod and easily clips on the side of the case. But if you choose to use another pair of headphones, just take it off and use it as a convenient way to store your earphones.
The car adapter will be shipping later this month. While we could not test it, if its quality meets that of the rest of the package, it should be a welcome addition and provide an easy solution for those car trips that last longer than 10 hours. Some people have noted that plugging any electronic device into a cigarette lighter adapter in your car poses certain electrical risks; we have no reason to worry about that problem at this time.
The deluxe case itself is amazing. This design incorporates the two most needed qualities in a case - providing solid protection and easy accessibility for the controls - two characteristics that have previously been mutually exclusive.
Though it is made of stiff leather instead of neoprene, the case actually does provide solid protection against falls and collisions. The leather extends a few millimeters beyond the sides of your iPod, so the case absorbs most of the impact, not your iPod. In an “unscientific test” (read: I accidentally dropped it about four feet), the case worked perfectly, and there were no mechanical or cosmetic problems whatsoever.
The mounts and the lanyard all work as expected, but their best quality is that you don’t have to use any of them if you don’t want to. If you prefer to keep the case in your coat pocket instead of on your belt, just take the clip off. If you don’t want to use the earphone pouch, toss it in a drawer. This ability to choose what to use and what to not is truly another feature in and of itself. You can easily customize your case however you wish, without having to worry about the features you don’t use getting in the way.
The XtremeMac case may be one of the best cases we’ve seen, but perfect is a bit of an exaggeration. This isn’t to say that it has major issues, but there are some minor problems that the company might want to consider fixing in the future.
Several readers have commented that the felt-like material on the inside of the case can shed black fuzz and that it might work its way into the scroll wheel or the Firewire port, potentially damaging the device.
Personally, I see this issue as simply being an inconvenience, as opposed to a serious problem. Granted, I’m not an electrical engineer, but I doubt tiny, dust-like particles could seriously damage either of the parts. I’ve known PC users who had dust literally caked on the backs of their computers from the power supply fan, yet their machines continued to work fine.
At the very least, when you compare this potential risk with the risks of other cases that we’ve reviewed - offering no protection for the scroll wheel, accidentally popping open in your briefcase, even directly causing cosmetic blemishes - this problem seems fairly minute.
The Bottom Line
Providing solid protection, amazing ease of use, and whatever combination of accessories your budget affords you, XtremeMac’s Deluxe iPod Case is one of the best deals on the market today.