There are tons of iPod cases at this point, including great and “oh, so close” options. XtremeMac’s new Verona Sleeve cases for the iPod nano, classic, and touch ($25 each) are amongst the “so close” ones: stylish play-through leather case designs that look pretty cool, but don’t have the same degree of polish as we’re accustomed to seeing from XtremeMac’s case designers. Separate versions are available for all three iPods, with two iPod classic sizes made for the 80GB and 160GB classic models.
The core idea behind all of these cases—four colors are available for the nano, with two color options for the classic and touch—is to cover most of the iPod save for its screen, controls, and ports with a leather-wrapped hard shell similar to ones we’ve been testing for years from Vaja Cases and its lower-priced cousin, Case Mate. Here, the twist is that the leather is vertically striped rather than just a single color, except for one of the nano cases, which is all black but for a pink rear flower; XtremeMac also offers the nano case in a plain olive green canvas material rather than leather.
Seen straight-on from the front, the cases look good: distinctive and accenting today’s iPods, rather than trying to precisely match them, and each comes with clear film screen and control protection. The iPod nano version also includes a detachable carabiner hook, which attaches to one of the back corners; the other cases are flat rather than belt clip- or nub-laden. Each one has you slip the iPod into a thin slit, with the classic and touch coming in from the top, and the nano sliding in from the bottom. Top and bottom port and switch/button access are provided through holes that run on the insertion surface, as well as slightly through each case’s sides.
Our issues with the cases are three: their thickness, port holes, and padding. None is awful, but they’re all just a little off, such that none of the cases works inside a Universal iPod Dock or with oversized bottom accessories, the iPod touch and nano versions have problems with large headphone plugs, and the internal padding, while wholly adequate, shows through on all of each case’s open sides. The iPod touch Verona Sleeve cramps the screen just a little on the sides—it doesn’t technically overlap it, but the leather rides its fine edge.
These little issues contribute to making the cases harder to use and visually rougher along the edges than they should be. Proper tapering, a thinner inner hard shell, and slightly smarter hole design would have helped each of the Verona Sleeves a lot.
While the iPod nano version is the best appointed of the bunch thanks to its included hook, it’s also the hardest to actually remove the iPod from: it has a completely protective top surface and you’ll need to push somewhat uncomfortably on the nano’s face to slide it out. The other cases present no such problem.
We really wanted to like the Verona Sleeves more than we actually did, and if there’s any single word we’d attribute to the difference between our expectations and reality, it’s “polish:” these are good cases that easily could have been great with some additional testing. XtremeMac has priced the Sleeves fairly aggressively, however, at least for the iPod classic and touch, where similar cases can go for $30; the differences here in leather quality and port design make the discount reasonable. Now that XtremeMac is in the play-through leather case business, and given its past track record of excellent case designs, we’d expect that the next-generation Verona Sleeves will be comparatively spectacular.
Company and Price
Model: Verona Sleeve
Compatible: iPod nano (video), classic, touch