Pros: Good-looking PDA-style case with iPod-appropriate customizations, including small magnets and different-colored external stripe for style.
Cons: Belt loop and other small design touches are a step down from previous case; equally good or better-looking options are available at lower prices.
Back four months ago, we were impressed by the affordable PDA-style iPod Mini Flip Case from then-new iPod accessory maker Pacific Design (iLounge rating: A-), which offered two twists on the increasingly predictable PDA-style flip-top case design: rather than a snap-closed bottom latch for its lid, it used two sets of magnets mounted on its inside corners, and instead of using a single-colored cover, it stretched white stripes across its front and slightly past the headphone port hole on its top. We also liked its lack of a belt clip, which kept its back flat and overall size thin.
For most intents and purposes, Pacific Design’s new Flip Case for full-sized iPods ($39.95) is a higher-priced duplicate of the earlier iPod mini case, changed only in a handful of ways from the original design. The biggest positive difference is the wider variety of colors. Three colors(carbon black, mocha brown, and arctic white) are appearing first, with four additional colors (super silver metallic, luscious lime, precious pink, and big sky blue) to follow in June.
We’ve had the chance to check out the arctic white and luscious lime cases, and while we’re generally pleased with both of them, we preferred one aspect of the white case’s design to the green’s, and three aspects of the company’s earlier iPod mini cases’ designs to the newer ones. First, the white Flip Case uses a novel metallic silver stripe that looks even better than the plain white stripes that appear on most of the company’s other iPod cases. It’s a cool spin on the color schemes of full-sized iPods, and the better of the cases we saw.
Second, rather than preserve the flat backs of the iPod mini cases, Pacific Design has added leather snap-shut rear belt loops to the full-sized Flip Cases, which are sort of goofy leather straps that hold closed at their bottoms with a combination of snaps and Velcro. On a less expensive case, it might have been a decent alternative to adding a bulkier detachable belt clip or leaving the rear entirely bare – the latter preferable for those of us who don’t belt clip our iPods – but we’ve seen better from other cases at this price level. A detachable metal belt nub would probably have been the most appropriate alternative.
Third, unlike the earlier one-size-fits-all-minis cases, the new Flip Case now includes strips of black elastic on its sides in order to accommodate the various body sizes of different iPods. While it works, it’s another design choice that more befits a leather case at a lower price than a $40 offering. A more controversial fourth difference is on the inside iPod-protecting face: rather than creating a bridge of leather between the iPod’s screen and Click Wheel as the Mini Flip Case did, the new one uses less leather and more vinyl to achieve similar iPod face coverage. As with the third tweak, it works fine and looks alright, but we’ve seen better in cases at this price.
None of this is to say that the Flip Case is a bad offering – it’s just not quite what we’d expected given its price, particularly given the superior value proposition of its Mini predecessor. Its top and bottom holes are reasonably cut for most attachments, even including Monster’s larger Dock Connector cables, and it does cover the iPod’s bottom corners, which some PDA-style cases don’t. However, Marware’s cheaper C.E.O. Classic (iLounge rating: A-) is just one example of a case that’s more protective of the full-sized iPod’s body, particularly its top corners (which are exposed on the Flip Case) and Dock Connector port (which is always left open without a snap-shut flip to cover it), looks classier, and is more than a bit more functional, too. If you’re looking for a case that’s a bit more modern and don’t mind paying a bit of extra cash for it, you’ll like the Flip Case.
Company and Price
Company: Pacific Design
Model: iPod Flip Case
Compatible: iPod 4G/photo