Pros: A PDA-style Nappa leather case with generally good attention to fit and finish and workmanship issues, good protection of the iPod’s body, and nice use of suede for the interior. Good Dock Connector hole at bottom for easy computer connections.
Cons: Belt clip is non-detachable, iPod’s corners and top are exposed, me-too PDA-style design, a bit pricey. Beige case we tested had slight internal alignment issue.
The difference between high-quality and low-quality iPod cases is generally apparent pretty quickly: fit and finish, materials, and “feel in the hand” tend to be a lot better on the higher-quality cases. Booq’s new Venom45 case for full-sized iPods ($44.95) isn’t anything revolutionary from a design standpoint – it’s one of the increasingly common “upside-down PDA-style” case designs, which means that there’s a hard-reinforced piece of leather that wraps around the iPod’s front and back, and a tailored sleeve inside that holds the iPod in place upside-down. You’re supposed to wear the case with its suede, non-detachable belt clip, and open its protective “flap” whenever you want to access your iPod’s screen and controls. Together, the flap and belt clip add a fair bit of thickness to the iPod, and unlike many cases, you can’t slim it down by removing the clip.
Additionally unlike typical PDA-style cases, when you open Venom45’s snap – a thin strip of leather with an orange B logo that wraps around the case’s top left side – the iPod hangs down such that its screen can be read and body cradles with your hand. The standard PDA case keeps your iPod on your belt when it’s opened, which has the virtue of not tugging on your headphone cord like Venom45, but the disadvantage of being much harder to see and use.
We’ve said before that PDA-ish cases are a tired breed, and aside from its use of a quality Nappa leather exterior and complementing suede interior, Venom45 is highly similar to other cases we’ve seen. While thick and protective of most of the iPod’s body (sides, bottom, front and back), it leaves the iPod’s four corners exposed on the sides when closed, along with around 80% of its top surface because its flap opens from the bottom rather than the top. We’ve reviewed a number of more protective PDA-style cases that have engineered around these issues, and found the Venom45s a bit of a throwback in this regard.
However, if you’re thinking of buying one of the cases, you’re likely doing so for the name and the workmanship. In these regards, Booq doesn’t disappoint. Against both the black and beige samples we received, the company’s small orange logo is a touch of class, and the overall look of each case’s suede interior is really quite impressive. The beige case has an iPod sheathe made from beige suede and an interior made from blue suede; the black case uses all black components. Both have the tangible traits of class we’d expect from products priced at this level, most notably a substantialness that leaves your iPod feeling well-protected wherever it’s covered.
It’s not covered everywhere. In addition to the exposed parts we noted, there’s also an appropriately sized hole in the case’s leather bottom for Dock Connector cables, which we liked. Inside, there are attractively cut holes inside for the iPod’s screen and Click Wheel – no internal screen or Click Wheel protector is included, or especially needed. On the bright side, all of the holes are precision stitched, and look every bit as professional as you’d hope for the price. The only issue we noticed was that it wasn’t easy to get a perfect alignment of the holes and our 40GB iPod’s controls on our beige case – Booq uses a small soft piece of stitched leather at Venom45’s top to hold the iPod in when upside down, and it was so firm that it kept the iPod’s screen and Wheel a millimeter or so below where they should have been. This wasn’t a problem with the black case we tested, so we assume it was either a limited issue or one that’s easily corrected. In any case, it didn’t affect iPod usability.
Both cases also include two matching suede sizers that can be used to keep the cases snug on your choice of fourth-generation iPods and iPod photos. Beyond the fact that the company actually used quality material to make the sizers, we were surprised that each one is embossed with the Booq name, one of those little touches that cheaper cases wouldn’t bother with. Sure, it’ll be invisible once you place the sizer behind the thin iPod and stuff it in, but it looks nice when you see it, and won’t scratch your iPod.
Overall, the Venom45 case is a pretty good case for those who like PDA-style designs – the Nappa leather, suede, and the Booq name are its strongest selling points, though it’s pricier than some of the other leather cases we’ve seen and liked – and $15 more than its nearly identical (though smaller) Booq counterpart for the iPod mini, which we felt was a better value for the dollar. Based on the quality of the materials and workmanship, we’re hoping that Booq will consider some other designs in the future.
Company and Price
Compatible: iPod 4G, iPod photo