Many of the cases we receive here at Playlist are simply variations on existing designs. So it’s nice to see a unique approach, and even nicer when it’s executed well. The new Prie Hook case from Tunewear fulfills both those criteria. These tan-colored cases provide all-over protection for your 4G or color iPod via sturdy leather exteriors, soft alcantara lining (which feels like soft suede leather), and clear vinyl covers over the screen and Click Wheel. Your iPod slips into the case from the bottom, and the bottom flap closes securely via two metal snaps on the back of the case.
This bottom-loading approach is a welcome change from most iPod cases, since it means you can use your iPod with Apple’s dock base without removing the iPod from the case: You simply unsnap the bottom flap, slide your iPod out a bit, and then place it in the dock. (There is also an opening on the bottom of the Prie cases so you can connect your dock connector cable without opening the case.) The downside is that top-mounted accessories (such as some FM transmitters and remote control receivers) don’t fit.
But the most unique thing about the Prie Hook is, well, the hook. A sturdy — and securely attached — metal hook with a spring-loaded clasp lets you fasten the case to a belt loop, bag, or backpack strap for carrying. It’s a nifty touch that’s not only convenient — your iPod is always accessible — but also stylish; when testing the case out and about we received numerous positive comments about it. (The attractive tan leather with yellow stitching didn’t hurt in this respect.) The hook on the Prie Hook for 4G and color iPods rotates freely. (The mini version of the case, reviewed elsewhere on the site, feature a hook that doesn’t rotate.)
The full-size Prie Hook provides an additional innovation: Instead of requiring different case sizes, or using foam or plastic “spacers,” to fit all 4G and color iPods, the Prie Hook uses a spring-loaded back, covered in a thin layer of alcantara, that automatically adjusts to fit the varying thicknesses of 4G and photo iPods. Whichever iPod you insert, it fits perfectly. The drawback to this approach is that the case is significantly thicker than many other iPod cases (approximately 1.25″ at the widest point), as it must be thick enough to accomodate the 60GB color/photo iPod plus the adjustable back; but since the Prie Hook is designed to be connected to a bag or pack, rather than slipped into a pocket, the added bulk isn’t too objectionable.
There’s only one thing that prevents the full-size Prie Hook from earning a higher rating: It doesn’t provide an opening for the iPod’s hold switch — in order to access the hold switch you need to remove the iPod from the case completely.