While combination iPod case/wallets have often ignored the wallet functionality in order to make a suitable iPod case, Pacific Design’s Uptown Clutch takes precisely the opposite approach, yielding a wallet that could actually handle most duties thrown at it. Unfortunately, it falls woefully short as an iPod case, with at least one major flaw.
Though I don’t consider myself supremely qualified to judge the Uptown Clutch on its wallet merits — the is designed as a large women’s wallet — I appreciate the fact that it comes with not one, but four slots for credit cards, the bottom slot with a transparent window for ID cards (including a cut-out to make it easier to pull out the card when necessary). In addition, there’s a full size billfold pocket behind the card slots that easily holds several bills without folding. A third pocket hides on the interior of the outside flap.
Opposite the card slots is the iPod holder, with cut-outs for your iPod’s screen and Click Wheel; the holder will fit either first- or second-generation iPod nanos. You can flip the iPod to face either the inside or outside of the wallet — the Click Wheel is accessible in both directions, as are the headphone jack, dock-connector port, and hold switch. Below the iPod holder, there’s a mesh pouch for storing change or your earbuds. When you close the wallet, the outside flap folds around and secures with a magnetic snap, protecting and hiding the exterior openings for the nano’s screen and controls. An exterior wrist strap lets you carry the case in your hand without worrying about dropping it.
With all of these features, you may wonder where the Uptown Clutch goes wrong. While the wallet functionality is superior to pretty much every other iPod wallet I’ve tested, the Uptown Clutch fails rather abysmally when it comes to protecting your iPod. The cut-out for the nano’s screen doesn’t provide any sort of protection for the screen; it’s merely an open hole. The same is true of the Click Wheel, though the Click Wheel is less prone to damage than the nano’s screen. Granted, both are protected when the front flap is closed, but in order to access the iPod in any way, you need to open the flap. Moreover, on the unit I tested, the iPod harness had a particularly shoddy feel; the material of the harness was peeling back, revealing a sticky adhesive that was holding the fake leather to the harness’s elastic sides.
But the most severe flaw of the iPod holder is the lack of any sort of strap or mechanism for holding the iPod in place. Turn the Uptown Clutch upside down and give it a firm shake, as one might if they stumbled or dropped the case, and the nano slides out quite readily. This is, admittedly, less likely when the clutch is being held tightly in one’s hand, and having headphones attached somewhat reduces the problem, but neither eliminates it. Pacific Design could easily solve this problem with a leather strap similar to the one on their NanoGo wallet, and until they do, I can’t in good conscience recommend the Uptown Clutch as a suitable iPod case. –Dan Moren