Pros: A highly professional-looking and uniquely designed iPod mini case, featuring nice leather and interesting side-opening design. Very aggressive pricing.
Cons: Interior vinyl panel is a little too small on edges, top and bottom holes are on the too-small side, with the Dock Connector hole proving unusable with even Apple’s smaller connectors.
When beautiful leather is married to smart design, the results for an iPod case can be nothing short of spectacular. Vaja’s iVod mini (iLounge rating: A) has managed to pull off an almost perfect combination of good looks and functionality for some time, and other leather case makers have been playing catch-up. Now Kroo has introduced three different leather iPod mini cases – Soho, Laguna, and Executive ($19.95 each, available for $12 and up) – which are surprisingly attractive given their astonishingly low prices. We review each of these cases separately, but provide a reference picture of the entire collection for those who may be interested in seeing the other reviews.
Of all of the Kroo cases we’ve seen, Executive is the most interesting contrast with existing offerings. To the best of our recollection, it’s the first iPod mini case that lets you insert the mini on its side, and though it’s not the only iPod case with a side-opening flap, it pulls off the feature in an attractive way.
Like Kroo’s Laguna cases, Executive is made from nice-looking textured leather in your choice of several colors.
Our review sample was orange, but pink and red are also available; Kroo may later offer other options to match the seven colors of its other cases. The case is semi-PDA-style in that it uses an internally reinforced hard front flap to protect the mini’s face most of the time, but opens to reveal a leather sheathe and vinyl iPod mini screen/Click Wheel protector. Executive’s flat back is also reinforced, while its sides, top, and bottom are soft and flexible. Externally, the case looks very attractive, and certainly conveys the appearance of being worth more than its asking price.
On the inside, the case looks pretty good, too. Kroo’s balance of leather and vinyl inside the case is a hint off precision-sizing for the iPod mini’s front panel, with a bit of leather overlapping the edges of the iPod mini’s screen and Click Wheel. This doesn’t really interfere with your use of the mini – it’s just a visual thing, and perhaps not bad if you prefer a little extra leather – but we always prefer unobstructed access.
An uncolored suede-like fabric is used for the entire interior.
Overall, Executive does a very good job of protecting your iPod mini against typical types of damage. The front flap wraps around the right hand side of the case, sealing closed with a chromed snap on Executive’s back, and Kroo has used strips of leather to cover both the mini’s top and bottom surfaces. When closed, the case covers the mini’s entire front, back, and sides, with tiny holes left for the Hold switch, headphone port, and Dock Connector port. As with many cases, there are also holes that expose the mini’s bottom corners, which aren’t strictly speaking necessary, but do ease the process of inserting and removing the iPod.
Unfortunately, as with certain other Kroo offerings we’ve tested, the accessory holes aren’t quite perfectly cut – they’re on the too-small side. Specifically, the bottom Dock Connector hole isn’t sized properly to let you plug in even Apple’s small cables without having them fall out, and you may need to shift the mini a little inside to move the Hold switch between both of its positions.