Pros: Serves its purpose pretty well, especially as a belt-mounted holder. Best “hand strap” implementation, if that’s something you need.
Cons: Very bulky, limited in versatility, and expensive given competition and its functionality.
It’s a common idea with a very unconventional shape. You’ve already seen our reviews of workout accessories from Tune Belt, Monster, and Teski, but you’ve probably never seen something that looks quite like Terforma’s new iSleeve case. There are two separate versions of their iSleeve – one for new iPods called the iSleeve G2, and one for older iPods called the iSleeve G1.
The version we tested was an iSleeve G2 colored black (or “nox,” to use Terforma’s term), but an iPod-matching white (“mono”) is also available. G1 and G2 versions are to all external appearances identical, so we wouldn’t expect to find any major performance variations between them except their physical dimensions.
Each iSleeve’s shape resembles but improves upon Monster’s iSportCase, replacing Monster’s bare four-corner grip on the iPod with a design that strongly holds the upper half of the player and clips its bottom corners. Made of a relatively hard rubber, iSleeve bends ever so slightly to enable the iPod to slide inside, covering its sides but leaving complete access to its screen and controls.
Terforma touts the case as offering 360 degree protection against shocks, scratches, and dents, though we’ll confess to being quite skeptical of its ability to protect the iPod’s screen and buttons against anything but a straight drop onto a flat surface. While the iPod’s back, bottom, and sides are almost completely shielded, save for a Dock Connector access hole, only six or so millimeters of shoulder rubber separate the iPod’s face and top from any surface the case might be touching. We therefore would have liked some form of transparent plastic face protection, but Terforma’s design is clearly a couple of steps ahead of the iSportcase, which used a similar design yet probably would not have even held onto the iPod had it dropped to the floor, let alone shielded any of its surfaces but its back.
The iSleeve includes two “wearable” accessories, specifically a retractable “HipClip” belt-ready clip and a similarly retractable “StoBand” strap. The clip is both large and gives the strong impression that it will hold firmly to either a belt or fabric, retracting into or out of the hard plastic rear of the iSleeve with the push of a button, and becoming flat or angular depending on your needs. Terforma’s StoBand can be popped out to serve as a carrying strap for the iSleeve, and has just enough elasticity and strap length to fit around the wrist of an average-sized man. It holds comfortably enough around the forearm to use for abbreviated periods during a workout, but more muscular users may not find it to be a comfortable fit.
There are three issues we had with Terforma’s case: its bulkiness, its versatility, and its price. Compared to Teski’s Roadie, the Terforma case is noticeably larger and makes the iPod look like a beefy Archos music device. But it also probably grips the iPod a bit better than the Roadie and provides a bit of extra anti-shock strength as well, so we’ll take the bulkiness as a mostly positive factor. The versatility issue is not as positive. We liked the iSleeve’s belt clip, but didn’t like its strap so much. Armbands are better than hand or forearm bands, and we wouldn’t want to hold the iPod in our hands or on our arms during an extended jog. A more complete armband add-on for the iSleeve would have made it more worthwhile.
The final issue is Terforma’s price. Sold universally for $49.99 at the time of this writing, the iSleeve is more than twice the price of the Teski Roadie, which works well, looks less bulky, and fits securely on any user’s upper arm. Given all of that, we can’t think of a real reason to recommend the iSleeve over the Roadie, but if the price came down, it would be a much better matchup. Like Monster’s iCase, the iSleeve just barely rates a happy, and takes a numerical hit for its value. Given the versatility of its design, however, we expect great things from Terforma in the future, and look forward to their next products.
Jeremy Horwitz is a consumer electronics fanatic who practices intellectual property law in his spare time. His recent book, Law School Insider, has been called the “best book about law school -ever,” and he continues to contribute to Ziff-Davis electronic entertainment magazines.
Company and Price
Model: iSleeve G2
Compatible: iPod 3G