Only three months after the iPod touch’s release, there are lots of fabric and leather case options out there, so we’re moving through another collection of nine options today to help you acquaint yourself with the great, good, and nothing special offerings. Four of the nine cases also come in versions for other iPod models, which we detail briefly alongside them. This review is for the I-nique Eco-nique Climate Positive Napa Leather Cases for iPod touch and iPod nano.
As much as we appreciate environmentally conscious companies—the U.K.‘s Better Energy Systems did well with its Solio and Tread cases, for instance—it’s hard for us to get fully on board with eco-friendly case designs that aren’t user-friendly. Like BES, I-nique is a British brand that has been working on “Climate Positive” cases that are supposed to not only avoid hurting the environment, but also actually benefit it. The problem is that these cases continue a trend that we have repeatedly said that we disliked on prior video-ready iPods: using the outdated PDA-style flip design that covers the iPod’s screen and controls unless you open a full face lid. Such cases are a pain to fidget with, especially in the car, aren’t necessary for iPod face protection, and continue to strike us as the second most generic of all the designs out there, surpassed only by tube-like sleeves.
The new Eco-nique Climate Positive Napa Leather Cases for iPod touch (£20) and iPod nano (£19) are soft leather flip cases with magnetic-sealed front flaps that open to reveal the iPods inside. New to these cases is green stitching and painted-on edging, the former fine, but the latter sloppily applied in a manner that detracts from the professionalism of the rest of the manufacturing process. A screw-on metal nub and black plastic belt clip are included with each case.
Positively, both versions of Eco-nique provide relatively complete access to their respective iPods’ headphone ports: any plug, oversized or otherwise, will fit. While the iPod touch version works only with Apple-sized and slightly larger cable-style accessories, and has problems with Universal Docks and other mounting add-ons, the iPod nano version worked with all of the bottom accessories we tested. They also feel very soft—in a good way—by comparison with other leather cases we’ve tested, while both the front and back parts feel firmly reinforced inside.
Both cases cover and expose the same parts of the iPod: they leave almost the entire bottom open, but for thin strips of connecting leather, as well as holes at the top corners, otherwise covering each iPod’s top and body while the lid is shut. Open the lid and the iPod’s screen and controls are exposed; in the touch version, you’ll need to open the lid to use the Sleep/Wake button, while the nano version has the Hold switch exposed on its bottom left corner.
Our gripes are just in their looks, practicality, and pricing. Especially when opened, the green paint looks so ragged that it shouldn’t even be there, and small blemishes on the outside are there, as well. Some people may like uneven paint, but to our eyes, it doesn’t look like the intentional work of an artist so much as unsteady application by a shaky hand. And, as we’ve said many times, we don’t like flip-closed lids for video-ready iPods: the need to open the cases up to control anything, watch everything, and so on is a loser of a design from our standpoints. Then there’s the £19-£20 pricing, which is fine for U.K. residents, but translates to roughly $40 in U.S. currency. By U.K. standards, this might be a bargain of a case, but over here, $40 buys a lot more than a shabbily painted flip case—from almost any vendor.
All of that said, don’t have any doubt that we support the concept of environmentally friendly manufacturing. I-nique’s mission here is a noble one, and we wouldn’t suggest that there’s anything wrong with making a fair profit from an eco-conscious case—we’d just prefer to spend our own dollars on something that meets contemporary iPod usage needs as well.
Company and Price
Model: Eco-nique touch, nano
Compatible: iPod nano (video), iPod touch