capsule review

iPod touch Case Roundup: Leather Tough

At a Glance

What makes leather such a popular material is its versatility. Its appearance and texture works well for both casual and formal occasions. Its durability is ideal for everyday use. In this week’s iPod case roundup, we take a look at four leather cases that’ll stylishly protect your iPod touch.

TuneWear Prie Ambassador SideHook

As the name for this case implies, TuneWear’s $50 Prie Ambassador SideHook ( ) has a hook along the right side of the case for latching on to a belt loop or bag. It’s a strong metal hook that uses a spring to keep it closed; you don't have to worry about the hook failing, but since the case offers no face protection, I'm not comfortable letting my iPod touch dangle from my backpack. The hook, which also doubles as a horizontal stand, is removeable but the nylon loop to which the hook attaches isn't (though it never got in the way during my testing). I actually prefer to use the case without the hook, and the case isn't overly bulky; your encased iPod touch won't feel too big in your pocket.

Your iPod touch slides into the right side of the case, and magnetic latches close to keep the iPod touch secure. (By the way, the magnets didn’t seem to affect the iPod touch’s performance at all.) The edges of the case never interfered with using the buttons along the sides of the iPod touch’s screen.

Prie Ambassador SideHook

The back of the SideHook has a little card pocket that can be handy for storing the proper items. I advise against putting any cards with a magnetic strip into the SideHook’s pocket, however; the iPod touch creates enough of a magnetic field itself to render the strip useless. (I speak from experience; I’ve had a few BART tickets and MUNI bus passes negated because I kept those cards too close to my iPod touch or iPhone.)

The SideHook is available in black, brown, gold, red, and silver; the silver-leather SideHook has stylish metal rivets along the sides, giving the case a bit of flair. You also get a piece of TuneFilm, a clear, protective overlay for the iPod touch screen. Overall, the SideHook is built well, looks good, and provides good protection. It’s one of my favorite cases.

TuneWear Prie TouchStand

It doesn’t get much more non-descript than TuneWear’s $30 Prie TouchStand ( ). It’s your standard black-leather iPod touch case. No fancy stitching, patterns or designs. The leather doesn’t get in the way of the sides of the iPod touch screen, unlike some cases I've tested, so you can easily access on-screen button along the edges of the screen. TuneWear also includes a TuneFilm, a clear-flim overlay that protects the screen without hindering your finger taps.

Prie TouchStand

The TouchStand uses magnets, located near your iPhone's Home button, to keep the flipcover closed. It’s been my experience with similar magnetic-flipcover cases that the leather covering the magnets eventually shows some scuffing from the constant opening and closing. After a few weeks with the TouchStand, I noticed a little bit of wear, but I successfully retouched the leather with a little bit of shoe polish.

The only unique feature of the TouchStand is its belt clip. You can’t remove it, but it has a nifty little latch that holds the clip open for use as a stand, handy for watching video. Also, the combination of the non-removable clip and the protective flap makes for a bulky case, so you'll either clip it on or stash it in a bag. All in all, the TouchStand is a good everyday case.

XtremeMac Verona Sleeve

Verona Sleeve

While its racing stripes give XtremeMac’s $25 Verona Sleeve ( ) a sporty look, the stripes are susceptible to scratches, flaking off if you so much as drag a fingernail through one. Some might say that the resulting scratched stripes give the case a charming, weathered look; I think it looks sloppy.

Your iPod touch slides into the top of the Verona Sleeve, which does a good job of not letting the touch slip out of the opening. The case is surprisingly hard, because the leather is actually glued onto a plastic shell (the leather seams are well hidden and I didn’t experience any fraying). The case doesn't add a lot of bulk, so you can still put your iPod touch in a pocket. XtremeMac also includes a clear TuffScreen overlay to protect the iPod touch screen; the overlay didn’t hamper my use of the touch's screen.

What did get in the way were the sides of the case—they’re too close to the edges of the screen. As a result, the case gets in the way of your finger—frustratingly so—when you’re trying to tap on-screen items near those edges. If all you do with your iPod touch is listen to music and watch videos, this may be a non-issue; but with so many other case choices available, there’s no need to settle for such inconveniences.

XtremeMac Verona Flip

Verona Flip

XtremeMac’s ($30) Verona Flip ( ) looks more like a small pocketbook than an iPod touch case; in fact, a Verona Flip-encased touch is well over twice the thickness of a naked one. The main reason the Veron Flip is so thick is that it uses two leather cover sections: one wraps around the front, covering the iPod touch's screen, while the other snaps to the back of the case. You can unsnap the back panel, and then wrap the front panel around and snap the two pieces together (as shown here) to create a stand—handy when you’re watching videos.

Verona Flip

The Verona Flip's uses good-quality leather, but the soft, pink-colored lining in our review model looked dirty after a few weeks of use. Your iPod touch slides in easily and is kept in the case securely. Fortunately, the case’s opening for the screen is wider than that of the Verona Sleeve, above, so I didn’t have problems accessing the sides of the touch's screen. As with the Verona Sleeve, XtremeMac includes a TuffScreen overlay.

Besides the case's bulkiness, the only other major quibble I have with the Verona Filp is the built-in belt clip: you can’t remove it. Otherwise, the Verona Flip is a solid case you might consider if you carry a purse or if you plan to stash your iPod touch in your luggage during a trip. The case is available in dark brown with a pink interior and pink stitching (pictured, right), or in black with a black interior and gray stitching.

[Roman Loyola is a Macworld senior editor.]

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At a Glance
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