Pros: A leather pop-open case that, when closed, shields the front, back, and bottom of a full-sized iPod. Includes a swiveling rear belt clip.
Cons: Bulging design and cheesy suction cup interior make the case look less attractive than most leather case options. Nothing special on looks or features.
Having recently had the opportunity to check out the entirety of Belkin’s very large case lineup, we wanted to bring you reviews of all ten of them in a timely fashion. Over the course of the next two days, we’ll look at five cases per day, moving quickly through the good and bad points of each one. Today’s cases are all for full-sized iPods, and though most are designed as one-size-fits-all offerings, most are better suited for black-and-white 20GB and 40GB fourth-generation iPods, or 20/30GB color ones, than thicker 40GB or 60GB color models.
Of all of Belkin’s full-sized cases, the NE Leather Flip Case for iPod ($29.99, street price $18 and up) is one of two that we didn’t like much. In essence, the company has assembled a collection of three reinforced pieces of leather that fold together to partially cover an iPod, leaving bottom side corners, top side corners, and its entire top exposed, as well as a generous hole for its Dock Connector port.
Velcro on the case’s sides allows its front half to flip downwards and expose the iPod’s controls, while a swiveling leather-covered belt clip on the rear lets you wear the case horizontally or vertically as you prefer. Visually, the only distinctive touches are the case’s hard, clear PVC window, which shows you the iPod’s screen, and its gray fabric side flaps. It’s otherwise nothing special visually, and because its front panel bends because of thin internal reinforcement, it generally looks worse than its quality materials otherwise would.
There have been a very few cases we passed on reviewing in the distant past because they both struck us as weird and came at especially review-heavy times – XtremeMac’s Protective Case for iPod is the most memorable. It was weird because it turned iPod protection into a MacGyver or Batmanesque collection of interlocking parts that didn’t look or feel so great together. The Leather Flip Case is weird because it doesn’t protect your iPod that well, and holds your iPod inside (when it flips open) with a big clear suction cup. Too many other companies to count have found smarter ways to accomplish the same goal with a flip-open design. This one is geeky and not especially inspired – the sort of case that you’d expect to see for a Creative Zen Jukebox or a Dell DJ, not the iPod.
The Leather Flip Case does better with thin iPods than thick ones, bulging less – but still visibly – with a 20GB color iPod than with a 60GB model. No iPod we put inside looked great; at best, they just look passable. We were reminded of Apple’s old iPod pack-in cases, which weren’t great cases themselves, but we didn’t like these quite as much.
Admittedly, evaluating this case using contemporary iPods and cases as yardsticks may be somewhat unfair given that it appears to have been designed back in the 3G iPod days, but it’s still being marketed for today’s iPods. In our view, it shouldn’t be. As evidenced by Belkin’s substantially better recent designs, cases like this were past their prime a while back – we’d choose virtually all of them, and almost all other cases we’ve reviewed for full-sized iPods, before this one.
Company and Price
Compatible: iPod 3G, 4G, color/photo, iPod mini