Pros: A simple, well made sleeve style case which allows the user to completely change its look by changing its outer shell among 25 designs available.
Cons: The attraction of a chameleon case is tempered quite a bit by the relatively high prices of designer replacement faces; no coverage of iPod’s top or bottom corners.
Since the days of the Nokia 5100-series cellular phones, changeable faceplates have been a booming accessory business. Whether simple solid colors or intricate, wacky designs, cell phone users generally had no problem repeatedly spending $10-$15 to change the look of their devices. Recently, iPod market newcomer Winzz released their new “iFace” line of cases, which allow iPod owners to do essentially the same thing, albeit not to the device itself, but rather to their two-part case.
The iFace nano, at its heart, is an ultra-simple carrying pouch sized for the iPod nano. The simplicity of such a pouch can be appealing to several users, but you’ll want to know the limitations that come with it. First, the lack of any access areas means you’ll be taking the iPod out of its case often to see the screen, change the track, or tweak the volume. Second, the iFace nano comes with neither a belt clip nor a lanyard: this is a hand-carry, pocket, or backpack case only. With these limitations known, we can review the iFace nano for what it claims to be: a simple case with multiple personalities. That is, the iFace nano’s selling point is that it can accept dozens of outer shells of various designs, completely changing its appearance to suit your mood or outfit.
Its inner shell is nylon on the outside and soft, scratch-free suede on the inside. The stitching is tight and accurate, and the assembly as whole feels well constructed. When inserted into the sleeve, the iPod nano’s bottom corners are exposed, as is its entire top surface. Tip: To restore top protection when you need it, simply attach an outer face upside down.
The inner sleeve is slightly wider than is necessary for the iPod nano, a design decision we suspect may have been conscious: slide the iPod right, and its headphone port is accessible for in-case listening. Slide it left, and the bottom right corner is more protected. We’d have preferred a more accurate fit, and simply inserted the iPod nano upside down when we wanted to listen, but it’s not much of an issue. Even with its slightly wide body, the iFace nano grips the iPod plenty tight enough.
The outer shells’ inner surfaces are made from nylon, and their outer surface is made from one of the following materials: Leather, Denim, Canvas, PVC, Nylon, or Suede. We received at least one in each style, and found them to be well constructed and accurately cut, fitting the iFace’s inner shell perfectly. The interface between the inner and outer shells is made with three strips of velcro per side. Once attached, we didn’t have any problems with the faces peeling off – the velcro worked fine.
The final component of the iFace’s package is a small canvas strip. When wrapped around the iFace case, this strip has enough slack to grab a pair of earbud-style headphones, for easy carrying.
Winzz currently sells 25 faces compatible with the iFace nano. Five of these are in the “Elements” series, and include the following:
- Black Leather
- Blue Denim
- White Canvas
- Yellow PVC
- Pink Canvas
Upon your initial purchase, you choose one of the above “Elements” faces to accompany your inner sleve, for a combined price of $19.95. Additional “Elements” Series covers cost $9.95 each, which is just about at the limit we’d be willing to pay for a new look for our case. Several of the “Elements” series faces are shown installed on sleeves below:
Where the iFace really gets interesting, however, is in the “Hot Wave” series case covers, each with quite artistic custom-created graphics printed on them, representing a different style of music. In the iPod nano size, these “Hot Wave” series faces sell for $14.95 each, which, after shipping, is a price we’d typically consider to be way too high for a simple strip of fabric with velcro, but style concerns always complicate the issue. Four of the “Hot Wave” faces are pictured below:
Left to Right: Disco, Hip Hop, Enka, and Latin
More faces are said to be on the way, and will be available at Winzz’s iFace website.
Value and Conclusions
It should be noted that in Winzz’s original press release, the prices were $25 for the initial purchase, and $20 for the “Hot Wave” series faces. Since then, these prices have dropped, although we still maintain that $15 is a bit too much for what amounts to an accessory for an accessory. As we’ve stated above, however, the uniqueness of style-oriented designs clouds the value issue beyond the capabilities of logical comparison. As such, it’s always difficult to review such style-centric cases, but we manage by focusing our grading on the cases’ build quality, utility, and protection, leaving the final judgement on style (and resulting value) to the opinion of the reader.
In this regard, the iFace nano is a well-built case with a moderate to good level of iPod protection, and for $19.99, it’s of comparable value to other simple sleeve-style cases like Marware’s Sportsuit Sleeve (iLounge rating: B+). However, those considering the iFace will trade the Sleeve’s belt clip functionality and more complete protection for the iFace’s freedom of style, a decision that we’ll ultimately leave up to you.
With its incomplete protection, lack of carrying options, and high-priced add-on faces, this case is clearly not for everyone. For those that like the look and can deal with the price, however, there aren’t any major catches… A quality of a solid “B”-level recommendable product.
Company and Price
Additional Faces for $10-15
Compatible: iPod nano