Pros: Fully protective of the standard 20/40GB iPod with detachable front flap and belt clip for your choice of thicker or thinner protection and iPod access. Quality leather and good workmanship stand out, especially for the reasonable price.
Cons: Leather PDA-style case design is looking a bit dated, case is a tight squeeze for 40GB iPod with slight Click Wheel opening misalignment.
As the iPod accessory market has matured, so have consumer expectations for their precious dollars. Fourth-generation iPod accessory manufacturers have been forced to choose between radically changing the products they released in the iPod’s prior generation, or keeping them mostly the same on the theory that customers won’t mind.
Marware’s C.E.O. Classic leather case fits its Classic name in two senses of the word. It’s a fourth-generation version of one of the earliest iPod cases, and a throwback to the style of cases designed for PDAs before the advent of the iPod. Almost identical to the 3G C.E.O. Classic case (iLounge rating: A) we reviewed at greater length and really liked here, the 4G version remains a well-made offering that will appeal to those who like PDA-style cases.
Since the two cases are so much alike, you should read our earlier 3G review for more details. But in brief summary, the 4G C.E.O. Classic is a two piece case: the first piece is a suede-lined leather and clear vinyl sleeve with a hard backing, excellent detachable belt clip, and three holes: one on top for iPod insertion, one on bottom for Dock Connector port access, and one for the 4G iPod’s Click Wheel.
Marware’s second piece is a snap-on front lid that attaches to the top rear of the sleeve with two brass snaps, and at the bottom with a third brass and lower flap. When fully closed, the case covers every part of the 4G iPod save its headphone jack; you can as easily use the case without the lid and have more immediate access to the iPod’s controls and vinyl covered screen. A small pocket in the lid’s front gives you a place to store a business or credit card.
The only major differences between the 3G and 4G Classic cases are the omission of the 3G’s additionally necessary four button holes, and enlargement of the headphone jack port, which has now been made considerably (but prudently) larger to accommodate larger connectors and movement of the lid on and off of the iPod’s face. Marware’s leather remains very good indeed – upper medium-grade in appearance and texture, though the suede interior is a little underwhelming by comparison.
On a slightly disappointing note, the Click Wheel hole in the clear vinyl case front is spaced properly for a 20GB iPod, but modestly misaligns when a 40GB iPod is inserted, and looks way off if you try to put an iPod photo inside. Marware doesn’t say the case is iPod photo compatible, and we’d rate it as “not,” but because of its tight fit, it’s on the fine edge of appropriate even for 40GB iPod users. The case remains protective and attractive in all ways but for this issue.
Our feelings haven’t changed much in the past year. Especially given its $34.95 price tag, Marware’s C.E.O. Classic is a very good value and an impressive leather case – if you like PDA-style cases. We think that the iPod market is rapidly maturing past that old school design, but if you’re looking for something classic, there’s plenty to like about Marware’s offering. Owners of 20GB iPods should consider it an A- offering; 40GB iPod owners, because of the Click Wheel spacing, perhaps a hair less.
Jeremy Horwitz is Editor-in-Chief of iLounge.
Company and Price
Model: C.E.O. Classic 3G/4G
Compatible: iPod 4G